The effects of print exposure on sentence processing and memory in older adults: Evidence for efficiency and reserve

Brennan R. Payne, Xuefei Gao, Soo Rim Noh, Carolyn J. Anderson, Elizabeth A.L. Stine-Morrow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The present study was an examination of how exposure to print affects sentence processing and memory in older readers. A sample of older adults (N=139; Mean age = 72) completed a battery of cognitive and linguistic tests and read a series of sentences for recall. Word-by-word reading times were recorded and generalized linear mixed effects models were used to estimate components representing attentional allocation to word-level and textbase-level processes. Older adults with higher levels of print exposure showed greater efficiency in word-level processing and in the immediate instantiation of new concepts, but allocated more time to semantic integration at clause boundaries. While lower levels of working memory were associated with smaller wrap-up effects, individuals with higher levels of print exposure showed a reduced effect of working memory on sentence wrap-up. Importantly, print exposure was not only positively associated with sentence memory, but was also found to buffer the effects of working memory on sentence recall. These findings suggest that the increased efficiency of component reading processes that come with life-long habits of literacy buffer the effects of working memory decline on comprehension and contribute to maintaining skilled reading among older adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)122-149
Number of pages28
JournalAging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition
Volume19
Issue number1-2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012

Keywords

  • Cognitive aging
  • Compensation
  • Print exposure
  • Reading
  • Sentence processing
  • Text memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Medicine(all)

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