Modelling longitudinal changes in older adults' memory for spoken discourse: Findings from the ACTIVE cohort

Brennan R. Payne, Alden L. Gross, Jeanine M. Parisi, Shannon M. Sisco, Elizabeth A.L. Stine-Morrow, Michael Marsiske, George W. Rebok

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Episodic memory shows substantial declines with advancing age, but research on longitudinal trajectories of spoken discourse memory (SDM) in older adulthood is limited. Using parallel process latent growth curve models, we examined 10 years of longitudinal data from the no-contact control group (N = 698) of the Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly (ACTIVE) randomised controlled trial in order to test (1) the degree to which SDM declines with advancing age, (2) the predictors of these age-related declines and (3) the within-person relationship between longitudinal changes in SDM and longitudinal changes in fluid reasoning and verbal ability over 10 years, independent of age. Individuals who were younger, were White, had more years of formal education, were male and had better global cognitive function and episodic memory performance at baseline demonstrated greater levels of SDM on average. However, only age at baseline uniquely predicted longitudinal changes in SDM, such that declines accelerated with greater age. Independent of age, within-person decline in reasoning ability over the 10-year study period was substantially correlated with decline in SDM (r =.87). An analogous association with SDM did not hold for verbal ability. The findings suggest that longitudinal declines in fluid cognition are associated with reduced spoken language comprehension. Unlike findings from memory for written prose, preserved verbal ability may not protect against developmental declines in memory for speech.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)990-1001
Number of pages12
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 5 2014


  • Aging
  • Discourse memory
  • Individual differences
  • Language comprehension
  • Latent growth curve modelling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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