“Older Is Always Better”: Age-Related Differences in Vocabulary Scores Across 16 Years

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Cross-sectional studies of cognitive aging compare age groups at 1 time point. It is unclear from such studies whether age-related cognitive differences remain stable across time. We present a cross-sectional investigation of vocabulary scores of 2,000 younger and older adults collected across 16 years, using the same laboratory and protocol. We found a steady decrease with year of testing and an advantage for older adults. An additive relation between age group and year of testing implied that age-related differences in vocabulary are independent of changes over time, suggesting that younger and older adults are similarly affected by changes in word usage.

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