Story processing ability in cognitively healthy younger and older adults

Heather Harris Wright, Gilson J. Capilouto, Cidambi Srinivasan, Gerasimos Fergadiotis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


The purpose of the study was to examine the relationships among measures of comprehension and production for stories depicted in wordless pictures books and measures of memory and attention for 2 age groups. Sixty cognitively healthy adults participated. They consisted of two groups-young adults (20-29 years of age) and older adults (70-89 years of age). Participants completed cognitive measures and several discourse tasks; these included telling stories depicted in wordless picture books and answering multiple-choice comprehension questions pertaining to the story. The 2 groups did not differ significantly for proportion of story propositions conveyed; however, the younger group performed significantly better on the comprehension measure as comparedwith the older group.Only the older group demonstrated a statistically significant relationship between the story measures. Performance on the production and comprehension measures significantly correlated with performance on the cognitive measures for the older group but not for the younger group. The relationship between adults' comprehension of stimuli used to elicit narrative production samples and their narrative productions differed across the life span, suggesting that discourse processing performance changes in healthy aging. Finally, the study's findings suggest that memory and attention contribute to older adults' story processing performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)900-917
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2011


  • Cognitive processing
  • Discourse
  • Key words: aging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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