Language in Healthy Ageing: A Comparison across Language Domains

Michal Biran, Aviah Gvion, Shira Shmuely-Samuel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Introduction: Life expectancy has been increasing in recent decades. Therefore, it is important to understand the functional changes during healthy ageing. Most research has mainly focused on one linguistic domain at a time. The current study aimed at investigating whether changes in language performance in healthy ageing occur in some language domains more than in others. Methods: Twenty-three older healthy Hebrew-speaking adults, exhibiting no cognitive decline, were examined on tasks aimed at testing their performance in different language and cognitive domains: lexical retrieval, complementation information, syntax, theory of mind (a domain related to pragmatic aspects of language), and short-term memory. We compared their performance at both the group and the individual levels. Comparisons were made between the performance of the older adults and control data of young adults, and between the older adults' performance in the different linguistic domains. In addition, correlations between the older adults' phonological short-term memory abilities and their performance in various linguistic domains were examined. Results: A decline was found in several linguistic domains among the older adults, while in other domains no decline was found. However, no unequivocal decline in linguistic functioning was found due to relatively large variance in their performance. Conclusion: Not all linguistic domains are equally vulnerable in ageing, and not all older adults are equally affected. The research has both clinical and theoretical implications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-103
Number of pages14
JournalFolia Phoniatrica et Logopaedica
Volume75
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2023

Keywords

  • Complementation information
  • Healthy ageing
  • Lexical retrieval
  • Older adults
  • Phonological short-term memory
  • Syntax
  • Theory of mind

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