Production of Inflected Novel Words in Older Adults With and Without Dementia

Alexandre Nikolaev, Eve Higby, JungMoon Hyun, Minna Lehtonen, Sameer Ashaie, Merja Hallikainen, Tuomo Hänninen, Hilkka Soininen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

While cognitive changes in aging and neurodegenerative disease have been widely studied, language changes in these populations are less well understood. Inflecting novel words in a language with complex inflectional paradigms provides a good opportunity to observe how language processes change in normal and abnormal aging. Studies of language acquisition suggest that children inflect novel words based on their phonological similarity to real words they already know. It is unclear whether speakers continue to use the same strategy when encountering novel words throughout the lifespan or whether adult speakers apply symbolic rules. We administered a simple speech elicitation task involving Finnish-conforming pseudo-words and real Finnish words to healthy older adults, individuals with mild cognitive impairment, and individuals with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) to investigate inflectional choices in these groups and how linguistic variables and disease severity predict inflection patterns. Phonological resemblance of novel words to both a regular and an irregular inflectional type, as well as bigram frequency of the novel words, significantly influenced participants’ inflectional choices for novel words among the healthy elderly group and people with AD. The results support theories of inflection by phonological analogy (single-route models) and contradict theories advocating for formal symbolic rules (dual-route models).
Original languageEnglish
Article number12879
JournalCognitive Science
Volume44
Issue number8
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
ISSN0364-0213
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 6 Aug 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 6121 Languages
  • 515 Psychology
  • Phonological analogy
  • Inflectional morphology
  • Single-route models
  • Dual-route models
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Mild cognitive impairment
  • Aging
  • Language
  • MILD COGNITIVE IMPAIRMENT
  • ALZHEIMERS ASSOCIATION WORKGROUPS
  • ELICITED-PRODUCTION
  • VERB MORPHOLOGY
  • DIAGNOSTIC GUIDELINES
  • NATIONAL INSTITUTE
  • DISEASE
  • ACQUISITION
  • FREQUENCY
  • LANGUAGE

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