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Psychol Aging. 2001 Jun;16(2):312-22.

The structure of verbal abilities in young and older adults.

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Gerontology Center, University of Kansas, Lawrence 66045, USA.


Four language sample measures as well as measures of vocabulary, verbal fluency, and memory span were obtained from a sample of young adults and a sample of older adults. Factor analysis was used to analyze the structure of the vocabulary, fluency, and span measures for each age group. Then an "extension" analysis was performed by using structural modeling techniques to determine how the language sample measures were related to the other measures. The measure of grammatical complexity was associated with measures of working memory including reading span and digit span. Two measures, sentence length in words and a measure of lexical diversity, were associated with the vocabulary measures. The fourth measure, propositional density, was associated with the fluency measures as a measure of processing efficiency. The structure of verbal abilities in young and older adults is somewhat different, suggesting age differences in processing efficiency.

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