Age, Working Memory, Figurative Language Type, and Reading Ability Influencing Factors in African American Adults' Comprehension of Figurative Language Research Article
Research Article  |   February 01, 2003
Age, Working Memory, Figurative Language Type, and Reading Ability
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Constance Dean Qualls, PhD
    The Pennsylvania State University, University Park
  • Joyce L. Harris
    The University of Texas at Austin
  • Contact author: Constance Dean Qualls, PhD, The Pennsylvania State University, 105 Moore Building, University Park, PA 16803-3100. E-mail: cdq2@psu.edu
Article Information
Special Populations / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Older Adults & Aging / Normal Language Processing / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Research Articles
Research Article   |   February 01, 2003
Age, Working Memory, Figurative Language Type, and Reading Ability
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, February 2003, Vol. 12, 92-102. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2003/055)
History: Received April 3, 2002 , Accepted May 22, 2002
 
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, February 2003, Vol. 12, 92-102. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2003/055)
History: Received April 3, 2002; Accepted May 22, 2002
Web of Science® Times Cited: 11

This study investigated the cognitive and linguistic factors presumed to be associated with adult comprehension of figurative language, including age, working memory (WM), figurative language type, and reading comprehension (RC). Forty younger (M=22 years) and 40 older (M=63 years) healthy African American adults completed WM and reading tasks, and the 60-item forced-choice multiple-category (20 idioms, 20 metaphors, and 20 metonyms) Figurative Language Comprehension Test. After controlling for WM and RC, the older adults outperformed the younger adults on idioms and metonyms. Metaphor comprehension was comparable between the groups. Findings demonstrate that WM and RC underlie adults' comprehension of figurative language and should be considered when interpreting performance on tests assessing figurative language competence in this population.

Acknowledgments
This paper is based, in part, on the dissertation research of the first author completed at The University of Memphis, TN, and was partially supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health (National Institute on Aging), NIA Grant No. P50 AG11715-03, under the auspices of the Center for Applied Cognitive Research on Aging (one of the Edward R. Roybal Centers for Research on Applied Gerontology). A portion of this research was presented at the 1999 Annual Convention of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and was jointly supported by the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders and the Minority Faculty Development Program at The Pennsylvania State University.
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