4aSC8. The interaction of lexical competition and semantic context in spoken word recognition by younger and older adults.

Session: Thursday Morning, June 19

Author: Mitchell S. Sommers
Location: Dept. of Psych., Washington Univ., Box 1125, St. Louis, MO 63130
Author: Stephanie M. Danielson
Location: Dept. of Psych., Washington Univ., Box 1125, St. Louis, MO 63130


The present study examined the interaction of two operations, discrimination of lexical candidates and use of semantic context, that are central to the early stages of spoken word recognition. In addition, the investigation was designed to evaluate age differences in the interaction of these two processes. Identification scores were obtained for lexically hard (items phonetically similar to many high-frequency words) and easy (items phonetically similar to only a few low-frequency words) stimuli in three contexts: single words, low-predictability (LP) sentences, and high-predictability (HP) sentences. Although significant differences between easy and hard words were observed in all three contexts, the effects of lexical difficulty were attenuated in the HP, relative to the SW and LP conditions. The principal finding with respect to age was that older adults exhibited greater benefits of contextual information for hard, but not for easy words. The findings are discussed in terms of their implications for the interactive nature of spoken word recognition and for understanding age-related declines in speech processing. [This research was supported by the Brookdale Foundation.]

ASA 133rd meeting - Penn State, June 1997