Effects of aging, word frequency, and text stimulus quality on reading across the adult lifespan: evidence from eye movements

Warrington, K.L. ORCID: 0000-0003-3206-8002, McGowan, V.A., Paterson, K.B. and White, S.J., 2018. Effects of aging, word frequency, and text stimulus quality on reading across the adult lifespan: evidence from eye movements. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 44 (11), pp. 1714-1729. ISSN 0278-7393

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Abstract

Reductions in stimulus quality may disrupt the reading performance of older adults more when compared with young adults because of sensory declines that begin early in middle age. However, few studies have investigated adult age differences in the effects of stimulus quality on reading, and none have examined how this affects lexical processing and eye movement control. Accordingly, we report two experiments that examine the effects of reduced stimulus quality on the eye movements of young (18-24 years), middle-aged (41-51 years), and older (65 years) adult readers. In Experiment 1, participants read sentences that contained a high-or low-frequency critical word and that were presented normally or with contrast reduced so that words appeared faint. Experiment 2 further investigated effects of reduced stimulus quality using a gaze-contingent technique to present upcoming text normally or with contrast reduced. Typical patterns of age-related reading difficulty (e.g., slower reading, more regressions) were observed in both experiments. In addition, eye movements were disrupted more for older than younger adults when all text (Experiment 1) or just upcoming text (Experiment 2) appeared faint. Moreover, there was an interaction between stimulus quality and word frequency (Experiment 1), such that readers fixated faint low-frequency words for disproportionately longer. Crucially, this effect was similar across all age groups. Thus, although older readers suffer more from reduced stimulus quality, this additional difficulty primarily affects their visual processing of text. These findings have important implications for understanding the role of stimulus quality on reading behavior across the lifespan.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition
Creators: Warrington, K.L., McGowan, V.A., Paterson, K.B. and White, S.J.
Publisher: American Psychological Association (APA)
Date: 2018
Volume: 44
Number: 11
ISSN: 0278-7393
Identifiers:
NumberType
10.1037/xlm0000543DOI
1402271Other
Rights: © 2018 The Authors. This article has been published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Copyright for this article is retained by the author(s). Author(s) grant(s) the American Psychological Association the exclusive right to publish the article and identify itself as the original publisher.
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 22 Jan 2021 09:35
Last Modified: 22 Jan 2021 09:35
URI: http://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/42083

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