Younger and older adults identified a series of target words spoken in sentence contexts from their onsets only (i.e., word-onset gating). Sentences were drawn from published norms so that the contextual probabilities of the final words were known. The target words were always the second most probable responses to the sentence contexts, and the probabilities of the target words and the most likely alternatives were systematically varied. Results showed that older adults required more word-onset information for correct recognition, and their responses were more affected by the probability of the occurrence of the target word, supporting previous suggestions that older listeners differentially rely on contextual support in spoken word recognition. Contrary to the Inhibition Hypothesis, however, that older adults have especial difficulty suppressing irrelevant information once it is activited, elders’ ability to recognize the target was not particularly disrupted by the presence of a high-probability competitor.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Geriatrics and Gerontology
- Psychiatry and Mental health