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Psychol Aging. 1991 Sep;6(3):416-25.

How general is general slowing? Evidence from the lexical domain.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee 53201.


Three analyses are reported that are based on data from 19 studies using lexical tasks and a reduced version of the Hale, Myerson, and Wagstaff (1987) nonlexical data set. The results of Analysis 1 revealed that a linear function with a slope of approximately 1.5 described the relationship between the lexical decision latencies of older (65-75 years) and younger (19-29 years) adults. The results of Analysis 2, based on response latencies from 6 lexical tasks other than lexical decision, revealed a virtually identical linear relationship. In Analysis 3, it was found that performance on nonlexical tasks spanning the same range of task difficulty was described by a significantly steeper regression line with a slope of approximately 2.0. These findings suggest that although general cognitive slowing is observed in both domains, the degree of slowing is significantly greater in the nonlexical domain than in the lexical domain. In addition, these analyses demonstrate how the meta-analytic approach may be used to determine the limits to the external validity of experimental findings.

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