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Radvansky, G. A., Gerard, L. D., Zacks, R. T., & Hasher, L. (1990). Younger and older adults use of models as representations for text materials. Psychology and Aging, 5, 209-214.


Recent work suggests that formation and use of mental models (representations of situations described) is an integral part of discourse comprehension. In an experiment comparing younger and older adults on this aspect of comprehension, subjects heard readings of a list of sentences and took a forced-choice recognition test. The test contained 2 types of distractors with an equal degree of verbatim similarity to the target sentences. One type described the same situation as the corresponding target sentence; the other did not. If mental models are an integral part of text representation formed at encoding, then a large number of confusions of the first, but not the second, type of distractor with the target sentence would be obtained. Younger and older adults showed this pattern to equal degrees. These data a consistent with those indicating that linguistic competence remains stable over the adult years (cf. Light, 1988).

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