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Constraints on language

aging, grammar, and memory


The role of working memory in language processing has become the focus of contemporary debates in psycholinguistics. These debates concern which aspects of language processing are vulnerable to working memory limitations, how working memory is best measured, and whether compensatory processes can offset working memory limitations. Age-comparative studies are particularly relevant to this debate for several reasons: difficulties with language and communication are frequently mentioned by older adults and signal the onset of Alzheimer's dementia and other pathologies associated with age; older adults commonly experience working memory limitations that affect their ability to perform everyday activities; the rapid aging of the United States population has forced psychologists and gerontologists to examine such effects of aging on cognition, drawing many investigators to the study of cognitive aging. The chapters in Constraints on Language: Aging, Memory and Grammar explore cognitive aging, working memory, and new models of grammar using a variety of methodological approaches including psycholinguistic investigations of comprehension and production, psychometric studies of reading and individual differences, neuroimaging studies of linguistic function, and neurolinguistic investigations of pathologies of language.