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You are here: Home / News & Events / Events / CLS Speaker Series_check_then_delete / 2016-2017 / CLS Speaker Series - Deborah Burke (Pomona College) Mechanisms of Cognitive Aging: Implications for Effects of Bilingualism
 

CLS Speaker Series - Deborah Burke (Pomona College) Mechanisms of Cognitive Aging: Implications for Effects of Bilingualism

When Aug 28, 2015
from 09:00 AM to 10:30 AM
Where 127 Moore Building
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Mechanisms of Cognitive Aging: Implications for Effects of Bilingualism

Aging during adulthood is characterized by both preserved and declining cognitive performance, creating a challenge for explanatory models. Older adults’ language performance, for example, is relatively stable for comprehension processes whereas language production is marked by increasing retrieval failures for well known words, i.e., tip of the tongue states. This has been explained within a connectionist model of language wherein aging and frequency of use affect connection strength, with phonological representations the most vulnerable to transmission deficits. Bilinguals report a similar pattern with more word retrieval failures than monolinguals, consistent with phonological transmission deficits caused by reduced word production in either language. A second aging mechanism, proposed to explain negative aging effects on memory and attention, is diminished executive control processes, especially inhibitory processes. Bilingualism, however, has a beneficial effect on executive processes and this, within this framework, should produce a greater bilingual advantage for older than young adults on executive tasks, a result that has been observed. However, older adults’ general slowing, new learning deficits and sensory declines affect performance attributed to executive processes, especially inhibitory processes. We discuss, for example, why older adults show less inattentional blindness than young adults. This research clarifies the need for theoretical development of the processes involved in executive control of older adults and bilinguals