Age-related changes in the use of predictive mechanisms during sentence comprehension

Symposium 2-2Time:08:30 - 10:00

Hsu-Wen Huang1,2
1Department of Linguistics and Translation, City University of Hong Kong,

2CUHK-PKU-UST Joint Research Centre for Language and Human Complexity,

Normal aging is accompanied by changes in both structural and functional cerebral organization. Although verbal knowledge seems to be relatively stable across the lifespan, there are age-related changes in the rapid use of that knowledge during on-line language processing. The current study examined sentence comprehension processes with auditory stimuli. Participants listened to high and low constraint sentences followed by predicted and unpredicted (but plausible) words for comprehension. Effects were examined by measuring ERP responses to the final word. Both age groups showed constraint main effect on N1 prominent at frontal electrodes - high constraint sentences elicited an enhanced N1 than low constraint sentences did, and shared similar amplitude size and latency of N1 with each other. Besides, predictability effect on N400 is observed in both groups - predicted words elicited reduced N400 than unpredicted words. This effect was smaller and later for older adults. However, whereas richer information eases word processing only on predicted word in young groups - predicted words embedded in high constraint sentences elicited a smaller N400 than that embedded in low constraint sentences, this was not clear in older groups. Interestingly, young group also displayed a post-N400 frontal positivity for unpredicted word, which only observed in high constraint sentences and was suggested reflecting the cost of misprediction of the next coming word. There is no such tendency in older adults (as a group). Overall, although context provides top-down information facilitating attention allocation very early, older adults seemed failed to effectively make use of context information to guide semantic processing.

Online Submission Registration Conference Program

 Important Dates

Submissions Open:
December 10, 2016

Symposia submissions due:
March 1, 2017

Abstract submissions due:
April 10, 2017

Authors will be notified of decisions by:
May 20-22, 2017

Registration open:
May 21, 2017

September 1-3, 2017