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Brain Lang. 2002 Apr-Jun;81(1-3):174-9.

Ageing and lexical access to common and proper names in picture naming.

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Laboratoire Jacques Lordat, Maison de la Recherche, Université de Toulouse-Le Mirail, Toulouse Cedex 1, France.


The question of whether lexical access for proper names is more impaired by ageing than lexical acess for other words is controversial. The aim of the present investigation was to evaluate the effect of age on proper and common name retrieval in long-term memory. The word retrieval paradigm used to achieve this goal consisted of the naming of photographs representing celebrities (production of a certain kind of proper names: names of people) and objects (production of common names). Compared with younger adults, elderly people experienced more tip-of-the-tongue states for proper names, but not for common names. Thus, the present study provides support for disproportionate age-related problems in lexical access to proper names. This finding is interpreted with reference to the cognitive model of speech production proposed by Burke et al. (1991).

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