Sounds, Words, Sentences: Age-Related Changes Across Levels of Language Processing

Kara D. Federmeier, Tanya J. Schwartz, Cyma Van Petten, Marta Kutas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Age-related changes in sensory, lexical, and sentence processing were examined and compared using event-related potentials (ERPs) recorded as young and elderly participants listened to natural speech for comprehension. Lexically associated and unassociated word pairs were embedded in meaningful or syntactically legal but meaningless sentences. Early, general sensory, and attention-related responses (N1, P2) were delayed by about 25 ms for older participants, but later components indexing semantic processing (N400) were not delayed. There were no differences in the size, timing, or distribution of lexical associative effects for the two groups. In contrast, message-level context effects were delayed by more than 200 ms in the elderly group. The results support models that posit age-related changes primarily in higher order language processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)858-872
Number of pages15
JournalPsychology and aging
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


Dive into the research topics of 'Sounds, Words, Sentences: Age-Related Changes Across Levels of Language Processing'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this