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Poster D33, Friday, August 17, 4:45 – 6:30 pm, Room 2000AB

Language production across the lifespan: Insights from inferential naming

Raphael Fargier1, Marina Laganaro1;1FPSE, University of Geneva, Switzerland

Language production abilities display specific dynamics across the lifespan. The vocabulary grows continuously (Salthouse, 2004) but lexical retrieval and word production latencies measured with referential tasks are slower in children and elderly relative to young adults. Previous electroencephalographic (EEG) studies contrasting these populations (Laganaro et al. 2015,Valente et al. 2015) using referential tasks reported converging evidence for modulations of pre-lexical processes rather than word-form encoding, which is compatible with recent behavioral findings on changes in semantic processes with age (Boudiaf et al., 2018). Inferential naming is another paradigm to elicit the production of words, in which word retrieval likely requires deeper semantic processes (Fargier & Laganaro, 2017). Here, we asked whether production latencies in inferential naming tasks follow the same dynamics as in referential naming. If pre-lexical speech planning processes undergo changes across the lifespan, then production latencies in inferential naming should also vary across different age groups, and functional and/or temporal neural differences may occur early in the course of word production. We recorded high-density EEG while participants overtly produced words in response to short oral definitions. Four groups of participants took part in the study including children (10-12 years), adolescents (16-18 years), young adults (20-30 years) and older adults (60-80 years), and analyses of waveform amplitudes and microstates were used to explore neural dynamics of inferential naming. Behavioral results revealed a significant main effect of age groups with slower production latencies in children (M=1060 ms) relative to all other groups (adolescents (M=921 ms; p=0.031), young adults (M=860 ms; p=0.003) and elderly (M=863 ms; p=0.003)). Large differences in waveform amplitudes were observed on multiple time-periods, notably before 300 ms. Microstates analyses revealed both qualitative (different topographic configurations) and quantitative (temporal shifts) differences between groups. As the time-window around 300 ms has been previously ascribed to lexical selection in inferential naming (Fargier & Laganaro, 2017), our results suggest age-related changes of pre-lexical processes. Interestingly, adolescents displayed similar microstates as in children and young adults, suggesting an intermediate pattern. Our results confirm that pre-lexical processes undergo changes across the lifespan. In inferential naming, such changes are probably mediated by semantic integration processes, which efficiency is assumed to peak after adolescence. This work therefore calls for a lifespan perspective on cognitive and language changes and further argues for considering adolescence as a critical stage of development. References Boudiaf, N, et al. (2018) Behavioral evidence for a differential modulation of semantic processing and lexical production by aging: a full linear mixed-effects modeling approach, Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition, 25:1, 1-22, Fargier R and Laganaro M. 2017. Spatio-temporal Dynamics of Referential and Inferential Naming: Different Brain and Cognitive Operations to Lexical Selection. Brain Topogr. 30:182–197. Laganaro et al. 2015. Functional and time-course changes in single word production from childhood to adulthood. NeuroImage. 111: 204–214. Salthouse, T.A. (2014). Quantity and structure of word knowledge across adulthood. Intelligence, 46, 122-130. Valente A, Laganaro M. 2015. Ageing effects on word production processes: an ERP topographic analysis, Lang. Cogn. Neurosci., 30 (10), pp. 1259-1272.

Topic Area: Meaning: Lexical Semantics