Performance of Younger and Older Adults on Tests of Word Knowledge and Word Retrieval: Independence or Interdependence of Skills? Purpose The purpose of this study was to examine the associations between vocabulary knowledge and word retrieval in younger and older adults. Method Three tests of word retrieval and 2 tests of word knowledge were administered to 140 Hebrew-speaking adults, half of whom were younger (Mage = 24.20 ... Research Article
Research Article  |   February 01, 2014
Performance of Younger and Older Adults on Tests of Word Knowledge and Word Retrieval: Independence or Interdependence of Skills?
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Gitit Kavé
    The Open University, Ra'anana, Israel
  • Ronit Yafé
    Tel Aviv University, Israel
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.×
  • Correspondence to Gitit Kavé: gkave@012.net.il
  • Editor: Carol Scheffner Hammer
    Editor: Carol Scheffner Hammer×
  • Associate Editor: Carl Coelho
    Associate Editor: Carl Coelho×
Article Information
Special Populations / Older Adults & Aging / Normal Language Processing / Language Disorders / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Research Articles
Research Article   |   February 01, 2014
Performance of Younger and Older Adults on Tests of Word Knowledge and Word Retrieval: Independence or Interdependence of Skills?
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, February 2014, Vol. 23, 36-45. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2013/12-0136)
History: Received October 10, 2012 , Revised March 18, 2013 , Accepted June 28, 2013
 
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, February 2014, Vol. 23, 36-45. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2013/12-0136)
History: Received October 10, 2012; Revised March 18, 2013; Accepted June 28, 2013
Web of Science® Times Cited: 5

Purpose The purpose of this study was to examine the associations between vocabulary knowledge and word retrieval in younger and older adults.

Method Three tests of word retrieval and 2 tests of word knowledge were administered to 140 Hebrew-speaking adults, half of whom were younger (Mage = 24.20 years) and half of whom were older (Mage = 74.83 years).

Results Younger adults outperformed older adults on tests of retrieval, whereas older adults outperformed younger adults on tests of vocabulary, and no association was found between the 2 skills across the entire sample. Once age and education were taken into account, both skills contributed to the prediction of each other and were similarly related within each group. Older adults performed equally well when required to produce and recognize word meanings, whereas younger adults were better at recognition than at production.

Conclusions Older age is associated with better knowledge and with retrieval difficulties, yet individual differences in vocabulary within each age group affect level of retrieval, and variability in search skills affects performance on vocabulary tests. Although the assessment of vocabulary is not free of retrieval demands, older adults as a group are more successful than are younger adults at producing word definitions, most likely because their knowledge is more complete.

Acknowledgments
Part of this work was supported by a research fund from the Open University granted to the first author (No. 43018). The two vocabulary tests were developed as part of the second author's Master's thesis at the Department of Communication Disorders at Tel Aviv University. We thank Dafna Arnheim, Erez Ben Natan, Irit Feldman, Yael Gutwein, Zohar Kaufman, Michal Meiri, and Talia Pertman for their help in collecting and coding the data.
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