Effects of Modality and Linguistic Materials on Memory in Younger and Older Adults
Audiologists can test memory with auditory or visual stimuli. Visual tests are immune to hearing loss, whereas auditory tests are ecologically relevant. In a previous study, an auditory test was preferred to a visual test because it yielded a greater range of working memory scores; however, the linguistic properties of the materials were not matched across tests. In the current study, we compared auditory and visual tests with matched word-level and sentence-level materials. All participants completed four tests (2 modalities x 2 linguistic levels) with counter-balanced order of conditions. In each test, 100 items were presented, with five trials in each of setsizes (2, 3, 4, 5, 6). The number of words correctly recognized, judged and recalled was measured. In part 1 of the study, 32 younger adults were tested and linguistic level and modality effects were confirmed. In part 2 of the study, 32 older adults were tested and linguistic level effects were found. Across age, recall decreased with increasing setsize. There was a significant main effect of linguistic-level (word > sentence) on recall. Notably, younger adults performed just as well as older adults on both auditory tests, whereas they performed worse on both visual tests.
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