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The purpose of the current study was to investigate the effects of working-memory (WM) capacity on age-related changes in abilities to comprehend passive sentences when the word order was systematically manipulated.
A total of 134 individuals participated in the study. The sentence-comprehension task consisted of the canonical and non-canonical word-order conditions. A composite measure of WM scores was used as an index of WM capacity.
Participants exhibited worse performance on sentences with non-canonical word order than canonical word order. The two-way interaction between age and WM was significant, suggesting that WM effects were greater than age effects on the task.
WM capacity effects on passive-sentence comprehension increased dramatically as people aged, suggesting that those who have larger WM capacity are less vulnerable to age-related changes in sentence-comprehension abilities. WM capacity may serve as a cognitive reserve associated with sentence-comprehension abilities for elderly adults.
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