The Effect of Lexical Frequency on Spoken Word Recognition in Young and Older Listeners

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When identifying spoken words, older listeners may have difficulty resolving lexical competition or may place a greater weight on factors like lexical frequency. To obtain information about age differences in the time course of spoken word recognition, young and older adults' eye movements were monitored as they followed spoken instructions to click on objects displayed on a computer screen. Older listeners were more likely than younger listeners to fixate high-frequency displayed phonological competitors. However, degradation of auditory quality in younger listeners does not reproduce this result. These data are most consistent with an increased role for lexical frequency with age.

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