Distance and Interference in the Reference Management of African American Adults Purpose The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of distance and interference on the adequacy of reference management in 2 contrasting narrative conditions among age-defined groups of healthy African American adults. Methods Twenty middle-aged (M = 51 years) and 20 older (M = 72 years) ... Research Article
Research Article  |   November 01, 2015
Distance and Interference in the Reference Management of African American Adults
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Angela Bradford Wainwright
    University of the District of Columbia, Washington, DC
  • Michael P. Cannito
    University of Memphis, TN
  • 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 Angela Bradford Wainwright: abradford@udc.edu
  • Editor: Krista Wilkinson
    Editor: Krista Wilkinson×
  • Associate Editor: RaMonda Horton
    Associate Editor: RaMonda Horton×
Article Information
Special Populations / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Older Adults & Aging / Research Articles
Research Article   |   November 01, 2015
Distance and Interference in the Reference Management of African American Adults
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, November 2015, Vol. 24, 594-607. doi:10.1044/2015_AJSLP-14-0013
History: Received January 19, 2014 , Revised September 13, 2014 , Accepted May 11, 2015
 
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, November 2015, Vol. 24, 594-607. doi:10.1044/2015_AJSLP-14-0013
History: Received January 19, 2014; Revised September 13, 2014; Accepted May 11, 2015

Purpose The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of distance and interference on the adequacy of reference management in 2 contrasting narrative conditions among age-defined groups of healthy African American adults.

Methods Twenty middle-aged (M = 51 years) and 20 older (M = 72 years) women produced a complex story retelling and a personal narrative of a childhood experience. All narratives were transcribed orthographically, parsed into terminal units (T-units), and analyzed for surface structure markings of referents.

Results Results varied on the basis of task complexity and specific dependent variables. Older adults produced shorter T-unit distances between nouns and pronouns in story retelling compared with middle-aged adults. Middle-aged adults, but not older adults, exhibited longer T-unit distances between referents on story retelling than on personal narratives. Both groups performed similarly in the management of intervening information between referents. The presence of African American English features was related to interference but not to referential distance.

Conclusions Older adults demonstrated an effective age-related strategy for simplifying complex story retelling by producing shorter T-unit distances and, thus, less intervening information between referents. These findings suggest that referential distance may be a more important factor in mediating story recall. (For a summary and guidelines for therapy, see Bunce, 1991 .)

Acknowledgment
This research was funded by the Center for Research Initiatives and Strategies for the Communicatively Impaired (CRISCI) grant from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. The grant was awarded to the University of Memphis, School of Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology.
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