ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B
主办:中国心理学会
   中国科学院心理研究所
出版:科学出版社

心理学报 ›› 2020, Vol. 52 ›› Issue (5): 541-561.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2020.00541

• 研究报告 •    下一篇

语言能力的老化机制:语言特异性与非特异性因素的共同作用

吴翰林, 于宙, 王雪娇, 张清芳()   

  1. 中国人民大学心理学系, 北京 100872
  • 收稿日期:2019-09-16 出版日期:2020-05-25 发布日期:2020-03-26
  • 通讯作者: 张清芳 E-mail:qingfang.zhang@ruc.edu.cn
  • 基金资助:
    * 北京市社会科学基金重点项目(16YYA006);中国人民大学科学研究基金项目(中央高校基本科研业务费专项)项目资助(18XNLG28);中国人民大学中央高校建设世界一流大学(学科)和特色发展引导专项资金支持

Language processing in normal aging: Contributions of information-universal and information-specific factors

WU Hanlin, YU Zhou, WANG Xuejiao, ZHANG Qingfang()   

  1. Department of Psychology, Renmin University of China, Beijing 100872, China
  • Received:2019-09-16 Online:2020-05-25 Published:2020-03-26
  • Contact: ZHANG Qingfang E-mail:qingfang.zhang@ruc.edu.cn

摘要:

语言能力的衰退是由于一般认知能力衰退引起的, 还是由于语言加工系统的衰退引起的, 抑或是两者的共同作用?研究中测量了青年组和老年组的一般认知能力(加工速度、工作记忆和抑制能力), 以及在词汇、句子和语篇三个水平上的语言理解能力和语言产生能力。结果发现, 一般认知能力、语言理解和语言产生能力都存在年老化现象。分层回归分析表明, 一般认知能力对语言能力的贡献, 以及语言理解能力和产生能力之间的相互贡献在青年组和老年组中是不同的, 且存在词汇、句子和语篇水平上的差异。在词汇水平上, 青年人的成绩能够被一般认知能力和另一种语言能力所显著预测, 而老年人的成绩却不受一般认知因素影响; 在句子水平上, 青年人的成绩仍能被一般认知能力或另一种语言能力所解释, 但这两类变量都无法预测老年人的任务成绩; 在语篇水平上, 青年人理解任务的成绩显著地受到产生能力影响, 而老年人的理解和产生任务成绩则分别可以被一般认知能力和语言理解能力所解释。对组间差异的回归分析表明, 一般认知能力和另一种语言能力对组间差异都有显著贡献, 且前者的贡献大于后者。上述研究结果表明, 语言能力的老化是语言特异性因素和非特异性因素共同作用的结果。

关键词: 认知年老化, 一般认知能力, 语言理解能力, 语言产生能力, 语言特异性, 语言非特异性

Abstract:

Language is a complex lifelong faculty supported by the general cognitive system as well as the dynamic interactions between comprehension and production processes within the language system. Studies reported that while normal aging impairs important aspects of language production, most core processes of comprehension are robust. However, accumulating evidence suggests a decline in comprehension when comparing older adults with young ones. Thus it is plausible to assume that there might be a general degradation in older adults’ language capacity. The information-universal theories assume that the aging of language is contributed by the declines in general cognitive abilities including processing speed, working memory and inhibitory function, while the information-specific theories highlight the unique changes of linguistic representations and their connections in the brain, which may result in decreased interplay between comprehension and production.
The current study investigated the relationships among language comprehension capacity, production capacity, and general cognitive abilities, and explored the factors that influence the aging of language processing. We employed two groups of participants (103 young adults and 114 older adults), and measured their general cognitive abilities and language capacities with different tasks. General cognitive abilities were assessed in three dimensions: processing speed by color judgment and numerical judgment tasks, working memory by digit span forward and backward tasks, and inhibitory function by STROOP color-word judgment task. Language comprehension and production capacities were measured at word, sentence and discourse processing levels, respectively.
We first compared the performance between the two age groups, and then conducted hierarchical regression analyses to examine the contributions of information-universal and information-specific factors to language performance. Results showed lower scores in older adults than their young counterparts on all measures. The first hierarchical regression analyses revealed that there were differences between the older and the young groups, which presented not only in the contributions of general cognitive abilities to language capacities but also in the contributions of comprehension and production capacities to each other. For word processing, young adults’ performance was predicted by both general cognitive abilities and the other language capacities, while the former did not predict older adults’ performance; for sentence processing, young adults’ performance was predicted by general cognitive abilities (only in comprehension) and the other language capacities, while neither of them explained older adults’ performance; for discourse processing, young adults’ comprehension scores were predicted by their production capacity, while older adults’ scores of comprehension and production were predicted by their general cognitive abilities and comprehension capacity respectively. Results of the second hierarchical regression analyses indicated that both general cognitive abilities and the other language capacities contributed to the group differences in language performance, and the contributions of the former were larger than those of the latter.
In sum, older adults show an overall age-related decline in general cognitive abilities, language comprehension and production capacities. We suggest that the aging of language processing is subject to both the information- universal factor as well as the information-specific factor, with the former reflected as the general degradation in cognitive abilities and the latter related to specific changes in the architecture of language system.

Key words: cognitive aging, general cognitive abilities, language comprehension, language production, information- universal factor, information-specific factor

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