Accounting for cognitive aging: Context processing, inhibition or processing speed?

Beth Rush, Deanna Barch, Todd Braver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

105 Scopus citations


Age-related deficits in context processing were examined in relationship to two predominant theories of cognitive aging (the Inhibitory Deficit and Processing Speed Models). Older and younger adults completed a measure of context processing (AX Continuous Performance Test (CPT) task) as well as a computerized battery of inhibitory tasks: Stroop, garden path sentences, go no-go, and the stop-signal paradigm. Participants also completed a simple processing speed task. After controlling for baseline differences in processing speed, age effects were detected on the AX-CPT. Smaller, but significant age effects were noted on the Stroop and stop-signal tasks, but no significant age effects were found on the garden path sentence and go no-go tasks. Intertask correlations were weak, providing little evidence for a homogenous or uniform construct of inhibition. The sensitivity of the AX-CPT to cognitive aging is discussed in the context of existing theories of cognitive aging. The authors suggest that deficits in context processing and utilization may underlie cognitive aging phenomena.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)588-610
Number of pages23
JournalAging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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