Lexicality judgements in healthy aging and in individuals with Alzheimer's disease
Effect of neighbourhood density
Neighbourhood density (N) has been shown to influence how lexical stimuli are accessed. In young adults, a large N is facilitatory for words but inhibitory for pseudowords in English. While there is a paucity of studies probing N as people age, results to date point towards changes in lexical processing that occur with aging. We are not aware of any studies that have sought to investigate N in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in English. Results from the lexical decision task reported here support previous N findings for young adults. However, older adults and those with AD showed a different pattern of performance. Both were slower to respond to and made more errors to high versus low N pseudowords but, unlike young adults, older adult groups showed a decrease in sensitivity to N for words. Results suggest that the aging process may change how N is processed; older individuals are no longer as sensitive to N and this appears to be further altered by AD. In the context of the multiple read-out model of lexical processing, this change may be due to a longer time required to activate lexical neighbours which, in turn, results in differential N effects for words and pseudowords.
Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease (AD), lexicality, lexical processing, lexical decision, orthographic neighbourhood, neighbourhood density (N), healthy aging, lexicality judgement
Published online: 11 September 2015
Cited by 1 other publications
Azevedo, Nancy, Gianluca U. Sorrento, Eva Kehayia, Gonia Jarema, Rachel Kizony & Joyce Fung
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