CLS Meeting Series - Michele Diaz (Penn State University)
Mar 27, 2015
from 09:00 AM to 10:30 AM
|Where||127 Moore Building|
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Age-related differences in phonological and semantic aspects of language
Although aging is often associated with cognitive decline, there is considerable variability across domains of cognition. Within language, several indicators of semantic processing (e.g., vocabulary and general knowledge) show stability throughout the lifespan. However, older adults tend to have increased difficulty with phonological aspects of language, especially in terms of production. While these behavioral patterns are established, the neurobiological changes associated with these behaviors are less clear. Moreover, there are several competing hypotheses as to what may be driving these differences: are there inherent differences between semantic and phonological systems? Are older adults influenced more by irrelevant information? Do these potential systemic and age-related differences interact? In this talk, I will discuss the results of behavioral and fMRI experiments that examined phonological and semantic processes in younger and older adults. We examined these processes in the context of covert production tasks and comprehension tasks and also looked at the role of task-irrelevant information. Our results suggest that the relationship between behavior and neural activation when processing phonological information declines with age, but that the core semantic system continues to be engaged throughout the lifespan, even in the presence of task-irrelevant information.