Cognitive Abilities to Explain Individual Variation in the Interpretation of Complex Sentences by Older Adults

AbstractThis paper investigates which cognitive abilities predict the interpretation of complex sentences by older adults. Participants performed a picture-selection task after hearing complex and simpler sentences, as well as a broad test battery of cognitive tests. The results show that different cognitive factors serve as predictors for the interpretation of complex sentences compared to simpler sentences. For complex sentences, verbal intelligence, cognitive flexibility, and working memory capacity are strong predictors. Our study thus shows that older adults' interpretation of sentences of varying complexity is influenced by different cognitive abilities, and stresses the need to take such individual differences into account when studying language processing.

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