Project: Research project

Project Details


The long term goals of the research are to identify 1) factors and
conditions that produce optimal reading comprehension and retrieval for
older learners, and 2) mechanisms responsible for age-related deficit in
processing texts; specifically, can working memory deficits account for
most of the accountable variance in the decline between reading
performance and aging?

The literature on discourse processing and aging show that age-related
differences are minimized or eliminated when the text presentation pace
is slowed, and the readers is given maximum support of signals (text
structure) and strategy. Given these findings, two logical research
questions follow. One, how do pace, signals, and strategies interact to
minimize age difference? And, more importantly, why? The proposal
research will combine the expertise from two laboratories. First,
Meyer's laboratory will examine the necessary combination of conditions
that will produce minimum and large age differences in text comprehension
followed by experiments to understand interactions among age pace,
signals, and strategies. This unique set of experiments is designed to
extend our knowledge on the how question. At the same time, Poon's
laboratory will examine the why questions by studying the predicative
accuracy of individual differences in working memory capacitates and
processing rates on text comprehension. Information gathered on measures
of working memory from Poon's laboratory will be used in Meyer's
laboratory to further examine patterns of relationships between aging and
memory as stress on the processing of texts is varied. Finally, a four-
month text comprehension training program will be conducted in both
laboratories based on our understanding of individual differences.

Through this systematic series of studies the proposed research will
further extant understanding of an important specific cognitive function,
reading comprehension. The proposed series of studies of studies
examines how much of the accountable variance attributed to age in
reading performance can be attributed to working memory deficits as
stress on processing is systematically varied by manipulating important
strategy, text, and tasks variables. These findings will add to a better
understanding of age-associated changes of cognitive performance found
in cross-sectional studies.
Effective start/end date1/1/9412/31/94


  • National Institute on Aging

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