Проверка гипотезы стратегического замедления языковой обработки у пожилых людей: эксперимент на понимание предложений
Numerous studies have found a reduced speed of linguistic processing in older adults, particularly in sentence processing. However, it has been suggested that the reduction of processing speed in older adults is a strategy that they adopt for reasons of caution in order to avoid potential error and/or to conserve "cognitive resources". This hypothesis has been tested in the linguistic domain only once. To test the hypothesis about the strategic nature of slower sentence processing speed in older adults, our experiment address whether they have a greater tendency than younger adults to use a processing speed that is slower than their performance limits. Participants were presented with syntactically complex sentences word-by-word, first in a self-paced mode and then in two externally-paced sessions: (1) at their individual median speed from the self-paced session and (2) twice as fast. After each sentence, participants answered a comprehension question with two response options. We assumed that an external speed increase will cause a greater decrease in response accuracy in younger than older adults, because older adults tend to choose a self-paced sentence processing speed that is further away from their performance limits. However, in the current sample, the hypothesis was not confirmed. Thus, it seems that the slowdown of language processing in older age is a compensatory mechanism, inevitable and necessary to provide the same level of language processing as at a younger age.