Abstract：The definition of the tip-of-the-tongue (TOT) refers to a speaker seems to have accessed a word’s meaning adequately but is unable to complete the sound form or phonological label of the word. Both diary studies that document TOTs episodes and experimental methods designed to generate TOTs have proved that older adults experience more TOTs than young or middle age adults. With regard to the aging mechanism, the inhibition deficit theory supposed that older adults are more likely than young adults to fail to retrieve the answers because of activation the irrelevant information, which interferes the retrieval of the target name. The contents of inhibition include limiting access to irrelevant information(access), deleting information that is no longer relevant(deletion), and restraining the production of dominant responses(restrain). This study consisted of two experimental tasks, which were designed to explore the roles of access function and deletion function respectively in TOT among the elderly.
In experiment 1, a 2(age: old and young) × 2(interference condition: with/without interference) mixed design was adopted, to examine the role of access function in TOT among the old adults. In order to investigate the impact of deletion function, Thirty young people (aged 18 to 33 years old) and thirty older adult (aged 60 to 79 years old) were recruited. Participants in interferential condition were asked not to pay attention to the interferential stimulate when performing the TOT task. To examine the role of deletion function in TOT among the elderly, an another 2 (age: old and young) × 2 (activate condition: activate interferential stimulate or not) mixed design was adopted in experiment 2. Thirty young people (aged 19 to 27 years old) and thirty older adult (aged 61 to 78 years old) were recruited for experiment 2 and they learned the interferential stimulate before the TOT task in the condition of activating interferential stimulate.
To explore the effects of access function and deletion function in the TOT among the old people. Two–way repeated measures ANOVA analysis was used to analyze the data. In the experiment 1, the interaction between age and interference condition were significant. Only the old group had significantly higher rates of TOT in the condition with interference than that without interference. In order to analyze the role of access function further, a one-way ANOVA was adopted and the rates of TOT in the condition without interference was controlled as covariate, the result revealed the elderly had more rates of TOT than the young group. This result indicated the access function influence the rates of the TOT among the old people. Similarly, two–way repeated measures ANOVA analysis was used to analyze the data in experiments 2, the interaction between age and activate condition were significant. The old group had higher rates of TOT in the condition of activating interferential, rather than the young group.
The results demonstrated that the deficits of access function and deletion function of older adult may be responsible for the higher rates of TOT, which provided supportive proof for the inhibition deficit theory. The study imply that intervention of inhibition may be useful in improving the TOT of old adult.
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