Purpose: This study aimed to identify the age-related differences in the perception of emotion in speech, focusing on the effects of semantics and prosody. Methods: Thirty-two young adults and 32 elderly adults participated in this study. We implemented the test for rating of emotions in speech. The participants were presented with spoken sentences, which consisted of four emotional categories (anger, sadness, happiness, and neutral) in terms of prosody and semantics. In the general rating tasks, the participants were asked to listen to the sentences and rated the degree of the speaker’s emotions. In the attention rating tasks, the participants were asked to focus on only one cue (prosody and semantics) and to rate how much they agree with the speaker’s emotion. Results: The young group scored significantly higher than the elderly group on the general rating tasks and attention rating tasks. The elderly group scored higher on the semantic tasks than on the prosodic tasks, while the young group scored similarly on the semantic and prosodic tasks. Conclusion: The elderly adults have lower abilities to perceive emotion in speech than the young adults. They have difficulty in using the prosodic cues of emotional speech. In addition, the elderly adults try to use the semantic cues of emotional speech in order to compensate for their poor abilities to process the prosodic cues.
- Emotional speech
- Perception of emotion