Age-related Differences in the Effects of Working Memory Capacity and Cognitive Load on Word Recognition: An Eye Tracking Study

Min Ah Yoo, Seung Ha Oh, Jeong Sug Kyong, Jee Eun Sung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objectives: The purpose of the study was to identify the impact of age-related working memory capacity and cognitive load to word recognition using an eye tracker. Methods: A total of 48 participants (24 young, 24 elderly adults) who were divided according to working memory capacity (high, low) participated in the study. This study consisted of a digit load and word recognition task. Results: First, the elderly group had lower accuracy and slower response times than the young group. There was a significant difference between working memory capacity and cognitive load in response time. In the group with low working memory capacity, the response time increased under lower cognitive load, which was different from the group with a high working memory capacity. Next, the elderly group had a lower proportion of fixation than the young group by time interval. In addition, there was a significant interaction between group and cognitive load by time interval. In particular, the proportion of fixation decreased over time under a high cognitive load while the proportion of fixation increased under a low cognitive load in the elders, because the inhibition and switching abilities were weakened which made the elders unable to process information efficiently. Conclusion: The study results showed significant effects between working memory capacity and cognitive load in response time and proportion of fixation. This implies that complex factors influence language processing, which makes measuring accuracy insufficient. Thus, this research confirms the correlation among aging, working memory, and cognitive load through both online and offline measurement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)392-412
Number of pages21
JournalCommunication Sciences and Disorders
Volume26
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea and National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-2019R1A2C1089280).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021. Korean Academy of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (https://creativecommons.org/licens-es/by-nc/4.0) which permits unrestricted noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Keywords

  • Aging
  • Cognitive load
  • Eye tracking
  • Word recognition
  • Working memory capacity

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