As brain power decreases, older adults find new ways to compute language Older bilingual adults compensate for age-related declines in brainpower by developing new strategies to process language, according to a recent study published in the journal Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition. Concordia University researchers studied two groups of fluently bilingual adults – aged from 19 …Concordia University researchers studied two groups of fluently bilingual adults – aged from 19 to 35 and from 60 to 81 years old – and found significant age-related differences in the manner their brains interpreted written language.
“We wanted to know whether older adults relied on context to process interlingual homographs (IH) – words that are spelled the same in both languages but have a different meaning,” says lead author Shanna Kousaie, a PhD candidate at Concordia University’s Department of Psychology and Centre for Research in Human Development (CRDH).
As part of the study, subjects were asked to read hundreds of trios of words. The first word in the triplet was in either English or French, indicating the language of the IH, putting it in context for readers. The second was an IH – a word such as “coin,” which means “money” in English but “corner” in French. The third word was one that might or might not help the person understand the meaning of the IH more quickly.
Subjects’ neurophysiological responses to these words were recorded using an electroencephalograph, an instrument that records the brain’s electrical activity.[Read on...]