Language processing, slowing, and speed/accuracy trade-off in the elderly

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41 Citations (Scopus)


Previous studies have suggested that longer response times in older adults could be partly due to increased caution in responding, with a propensity to emphasize accuracy to the detriment of speed. A study was carried out in 30 young and 30 older adults in order to determine whether shifting the response criterion relative to the speed/accuracy trade-off towards a more risky strategy would significantly reduce age-related differences in response time. The experimental procedure involved the detection of incongruous sentences, either with or without a mnemonic preload. Instructions emphasized alternatively speed or accuracy. Results showed that whatever the instructions, older adults remained consistently much slower than young adults, and a little more accurate. When instructed to emphasize speed, they never managed to reduce the response time difference relative to young adults. It is concluded that the more cautious approach in older adults is required to attenuate the adverse effects of a slower processing system.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137 - 150
Number of pages14
JournalExperimental Aging Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2001


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