Age deficits in learning sequences of spoken words

Nancy A. Dennis, James H. Howard, Darlene V. Howard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Previous research has demonstrated age-related deficits in implicit learning of visual sequences characterized by subtle predictive relationships among the sequence elements. This study investigates whether this reflects modality-specific, or more general, sequence learning deficits by using an auditory sequence-learning task. Young and old adults responded with a key press to each of a series of unrelated spoken words. Unknown to the participants, every other word was presented in a fixed, repeating order with alternate words chosen at random. Both groups responded more quickly and accurately to the predictable than to unpredictable words, revealing sequence learning. However, elderly participants showed less learning than young participants on several measures. This suggests that age-related deficits in implicit sequence learning reflect a general impairment in learning subtle environmental covariations rather than a modality-specific visual impairment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)P224-P227
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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