Stimulus-independent semantic bias misdirects word recognition in older adults

Rogers & Wingfield in JASA:

Older adults' normally adaptive use of semantic context to aid in word recognition can have a negative consequence of causing misrecognitions, especially when the word actually spoken sounds similar to a word that more closely fits the context. Word-pairs were presented to young and older adults, with the second word of the pair masked by multi-talker babble varying in signal-to-noise ratio. Results confirmed older adults' greater tendency to misidentify words based on their semantic context compared to the young adults, and to do so with a higher level of confidence. This age difference was unaffected by differences in the relative level of acoustic masking.