The present study examined how healthy aging and aphasia influence the capacity for readers to generate structural predictions during online reading, and how animacy cues influence this process. Non-brain-damaged younger (n = 24) and older (n = 12) adults (Experiment 1) and individuals with aphasia (IWA; n = 11; Experiment 2) read subject relative and object relative sentences in an eye-tracking experiment. Half of the sentences included animate sentential subjects, and the other half included inanimate sentential subjects. All three groups used animacy information to mitigate effects of syntactic complexity. These effects were greater in older than younger adults. IWA were sensitive to structural frequency, with longer reading times for object relative than subject relative sentences. As in previous work, effects of structural complexity did not emerge on IWA's first pass through the sentence, but were observed when IWA reread critical segments of the sentences. Thus, IWA may adopt atypical reading strategies when they encounter low frequency or complex sentence structures, but they are able to use animacy information to reduce the processing disruptions associated with these structures.
- Reading comprehension
- Sentence comprehension
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Linguistics and Language
- Cognitive Neuroscience