Electrophysiological and behavioral correlates of stable automatic semantic retrieval in aging

Grieder, Matthias; Crinelli, Raffaella M; Koenig, Thomas; Wahlund, Lars-Olof; Dierks, Thomas; Wirth, Miranka (2012). Electrophysiological and behavioral correlates of stable automatic semantic retrieval in aging. Neuropsychologia, 50(1), pp. 160-71. Oxford: Elsevier 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2011.11.014

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Previous studies have shown both declining and stable semantic-memory abilities during healthy aging. There is consistent evidence that semantic processes involving controlled mechanisms weaken with age. In contrast, results of aging studies on automatic semantic retrieval are often inconsistent, probably due to methodological limitations and differences. The present study therefore examines age-related alterations in automatic semantic retrieval and memory structure with a novel combination of critical methodological factors, i.e., the selection of subjects, a well-designed paradigm, and electrophysiological methods that result in unambiguous signal markers. Healthy young and elderly participants performed lexical decisions on visually presented word/non-word pairs with a stimulus onset asynchrony (SOA) of 150 ms. Behavioral and electrophysiological data were measured, and the N400-LPC complex, an event-related potential component sensitive to lexical-semantic retrieval, was analyzed by power and topographic distribution of electrical brain activity. Both age groups exhibited semantic priming (SP) and concreteness effects in behavioral reaction time and the electrophysiological N400-LPC complex. Importantly, elderly subjects did not differ significantly from the young in their lexical decision and SP performances as well as in the N400-LPC SP effect. The only difference was an age-related delay measured in the N400-LPC microstate. This could be attributed to existing age effects in controlled functions, as further supported by the replicated age difference in word fluency. The present results add new behavioral and neurophysiological evidence to earlier findings, by showing that automatic semantic retrieval remains stable in global signal strength and topographic distribution during healthy aging.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > University Psychiatric Services > University Hospital of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy > Psychiatric Neurophysiology [discontinued]

UniBE Contributor:

Grieder, Matthias, König, Thomas, Dierks, Thomas, Wirth, Miranka








Factscience Import

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 14:24

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:07

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https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/8406 (FactScience: 213939)

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