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Psychology & Neuroscience

versão On-line ISSN 1983-3288


SKA, Bernadette et al. Theoretical, behavioral and neuroimage evidence on discourse processing aging. Psychol. Neurosci. (Online) [online]. 2009, vol.2, n.2, pp.101-109. ISSN 1983-3288.

A growing interest in cognition in aging has been observed because of both the epidemiologic factor of an increase in the lifespan of the world's population and the cognitive changes behaviorally and biologically detectable in this population. The most complex of language components and fundamental in social interaction, discourse production and comprehension are among the most scarcely explored cognitive functions in this context. This review presents and discusses discourse processing in healthy aging with regard to theoretical, behavioral, and neuroimaging evidence. Cognitive and neurobiological models are reviewed, such as the Hemispheric Asymmetry Reduction in Older Adults (HAROLD) model and the Posterior-Anterior Shift in Aging (PASA) model. Among the neuropsycholinguistic research developed to characterize discourse processing in aging individuals, which has contributed to the prevention and treatment of language impairment and the maintenance of communicative competence in aging, studies on the relationship between discourse and working memory, attention, and some executive components are discussed. Regarding neuroimaging data, very few studies that have included cognitive tasks and discourse stimuli were found. Such studies suggest that discourse processing requires not only the participation of both brain hemispheres, but also a more prominent activation of frontal regions. Considering the great complexity and usefulness of discourse in elderly adults' daily communication and the emergence of cognitive deficits related to aging in complex information processing, the necessity of further behavioral and neuroimaging studies, including discourse processing tasks, comparing tasks involving executive, attentional, and mnemonic demands becomes evident.

Palavras-chave : aging; discourse; cognitive assessment; functional neuroimaging.

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