The proposed research will increase our understanding of age differences in basic cognitive processes that are fundamental to language and memory. The experiments test two accounts of cognitive aging that jostulate age decrements in specific processes. Under the Transmission Deficit hypothesis, age weakens connections among representational units in memory, thereby reducing the transmission of priming. Under the nhibition Deficit hypothesis, age reduces the efficiency of inhibitory processes that suppress irrelevant nformation. We test contrasting predictions of these hypotheses for age deficits in spoken and written anguage production. The long-term goal is to contribute to the development of theories of aging that apply o a broad spectrum of cognitive performance, and that are sufficiently well specified to make testable predictions. A related goal is to identify the specific mechanisms underlying increased failures in phonological and orthographic retrieval in old age. The research focuses on cognitive problems that older adults report as their most frequent and most troubling, for example, tip of the tongue states (TOTs) and forgetting proper names, and it identifies conditions that either exacerbate or reduce these problems. Five sets of experiments are proposed. Experiments 1-4use a phonological priming technique to test whether aging causes selective decrements in phonological retrieval processes involved in word production. Experiments 5-7 investigate the locus of age-related difficulty in retrieving proper names by comparing retrieval of names that are low vs. high frequencyphonological forms (e.g., [Bill] Cosby vs. [Doris] Day, respectively). Experiments 8-9 use a """"""""competitor priming"""""""" paradigm to evaluate whether inhibitiondeficits impair older adults naming of pictures of famous actors dressed as famous characters (James Bond-Sean Connery), so that two names compete for production. Experiments 10-12 examine a common mechanism for age-related increases in TOTs and spelling errors by determining whether they are correlated, and whether spelling is improved by prior processing designed to eliminate transmission deficits. Experiments 13a and 13b investigate why off-topic speech increases in old age and whyr despite thisr older adults' narratives are rated more positively.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Method to Extend Research in Time (MERIT) Award (R37)
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Special Emphasis Panel (NSS)
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Wagster, Molly V
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Pomona College
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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MacKay, Donald G; Johnson, Laura W; Graham, Elizabeth R et al. (2015) Aging, Emotion, Attention, and Binding in the Taboo Stroop Task: Data and Theories. Int J Environ Res Public Health 12:12803-33
Graham, Elizabeth R; Burke, Deborah M (2011) Aging increases inattentional blindness to the gorilla in our midst. Psychol Aging 26:162-6
Shafto, Meredith A; Burke, Deborah M; Stamatakis, Emmanuel A et al. (2007) On the tip-of-the-tongue: neural correlates of increased word-finding failures in normal aging. J Cogn Neurosci 19:2060-70
Cross, Emily S; Burke, Deborah M (2004) Do alternative names block young and older adults' retrieval of proper names? Brain Lang 89:174-81
Burke, Deborah M; Locantore, Jill Kester; Austin, Ayda A et al. (2004) Cherry pit primes Brad Pitt: Homophone priming effects on young and older adults' production of proper names. Psychol Sci 15:164-70
Burke, Deborah M; Shafto, Meredith A (2004) Aging and Language Production. Curr Dir Psychol Sci 13:21-24
Taylor, Jennifer K; Burke, Deborah M (2002) Asymmetric aging effects on semantic and phonological processes: naming in the picture-word interference task. Psychol Aging 17:662-76
James, L E; Burke, D M (2000) Phonological priming effects on word retrieval and tip-of-the-tongue experiences in young and older adults. J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn 26:1378-91
Burke, D M (1997) Language, aging, and inhibitory deficits: evaluation of a theory. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci 52:P254-64
Cohen, G; Burke, D M (1993) Memory for proper names: a review. Memory 1:249-63

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