Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton June 22, 2019

Processing gender stereotypes in dementia patients and older healthy adults: a self-paced reading study

Daniel Müller-Feldmeth, Katharina Ahnefeld and Adriana Hanulíková
From the journal Linguistics Vanguard

Abstract

We used self-paced reading to examine whether stereotypical associations of verbs with women or men as prototypical agents (e.g. the craftsman knits a sweater) are activated during sentence processing in dementia patients and healthy older adults. Effects of stereotypical knowledge on language processing have frequently been observed in young adults, but little is known about age-related changes in the activation and integration of stereotypical information. While syntactic processing may remain intact, semantic capacities are often affected in dementia. Since inferences based on gender stereotypes draw on social and world knowledge, access to stereotype information may also be affected in dementia patients. Results from dementia patients (n = 9, average age 86.6) and healthy older adults (n = 14, average age 79.5) showed slower reading times and less accuracy in comprehension scores for dementia patients compared to the control group. While activation of stereotypical associations of verbs was visible in both groups, they differed with respect to the time-course of processing. The effect of stereotypes on comprehension accuracy was visible for healthy adults only. The evidence from reading times suggests that older adults with and without dementia engage stereotypical inferences during reading, which is in line with research on young adults.


Shared authorship.


Acknowledgement

We would like to thank Maria Silveira for assistance with the rating experiment. Author contribution statement: A.H. conceived, designed and planned the experiments. K.A. collected the data under the supervision of A.H. D.M.F. carried out the data analysis. D.M.F. and A.H. wrote the paper.

References

Barr, Dale J., Roger Levy, Christoph Scheepers & Harry J. Tily. 2013. Random effects structure for confirmatory hypothesis testing: Keep it maximal. Journal of Memory and Language 68(3). 255–278.10.1016/j.jml.2012.11.001Search in Google Scholar

Bates, Douglas, Martin Mächler, Ben Bolker & Steve Walker. 2015a. Fitting linear mixed-effects models using lme4. Journal of Statistical Software 67. 1–48.10.18637/jss.v067.i01Search in Google Scholar

Bates, Douglas, Robert Kliegl, Shravan Vasishth & Harald R. Baayen. 2015b. Parsimonious mixed models. Available from arXiv:1506.04967 (stat.ME).Search in Google Scholar

Burke, Deborah M. & Meredith A. Shafto. 2008. Language and aging. In Fergus I. M. Craik & Timothy A. Salthouse (eds.), The handbook of aging and cognition ( 3), 373–443. New-York: Psychology Press.Search in Google Scholar

Carreiras, Manual, Alan Garnham, Jane Oakhill & Kate Cain. 1996. The use of stereotypical gender information in constructing a mental model: Evidence from English and Spanish. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology Section A 49(3). 639–663.10.1080/713755647Search in Google Scholar

Clark-Cotton, Manuella R., R. K. Williams, Mira Goral & Loraine K. Obler. 2007. Language and communication in aging. In James E. Birren (ed.), Encyclopedia of gerontology: Age, aging, and the aged (2nd ed.), 1–8. London: Elsevier.10.1016/B0-12-370870-2/00103-7Search in Google Scholar

Contreras, Juan Manuel, Mahzarin R. Banaji & Jason P. Mitchell. 2012. Dissociable neural correlates of stereotypes and other forms of semantic knowledge. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 7(7). 764–770.10.1093/scan/nsr053Search in Google Scholar

Duffy, Susan A. & Jessica A. Keir. 2004. Violating stereotypes: Eye movements and comprehension processes when text conflicts with world knowledge. Memory & Cognition 32(4). 551–559.10.3758/BF03195846Search in Google Scholar

Ebaid, Deena, Sheila G. Crewther, Kirsty MacCalman, Alyse Brown & Daniel P. Crewther. 2017. Cognitive Processing Speed across the Lifespan: Beyond the Influence of Motor Speed. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience 9. 62.10.3389/fnagi.2017.00062Search in Google Scholar

Esaulova, Yulia, Chiara Reali & Lisa von Stockhausen. 2014. Influences of grammatical and stereotypical gender during reading: Eye movements in pronominal and noun phrase anaphor resolution. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience 29(7). 781–803.10.1080/01690965.2013.794295Search in Google Scholar

Federmeier, Kara D., Marta Kutas & Rina Schul. 2010. Age-related and individual differences in the use of prediction during language comprehension. Brain and Language 115(3). 149–161.10.1016/j.bandl.2010.07.006Search in Google Scholar

Garnham, Alan, Jane Oakhill & David Reynolds. 2002. Are inferences from stereotyped role names to characters’ gender made elaboratively? Memory & Cognition 30(3). 439–446.10.3758/BF03194944Search in Google Scholar

Kemper, Susan & Joan McDowd. 2006. Eye movements of young and older adults while reading with distraction. Psychology and Aging 21(1). 32–39.10.1037/0882-7974.21.1.32Search in Google Scholar

Kempler, Daniel & Mira Goral. 2008. Language and dementia: Neuropsychological aspects. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics 28. 73–90.10.1017/S0267190508080045Search in Google Scholar

Kempler, Daniel, Amit Almor, Lorraine K. Tyler, Elaine S. Andersen & Maryellen C. MacDonald. 1998. Sentence comprehension deficits in Alzheimer’s disease: A comparison of off-Line vs. on-line sentence processing. Brain and Language 64(3). 297–316.10.1006/brln.1998.1980Search in Google Scholar

Kennison, Shelia M. & Jessie L. Trofe. 2003. Comprehending pronouns: A role for word-specific gender stereotype information. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research 32(3). 355–378.10.1023/A:1023599719948Search in Google Scholar

Kreiner, Hamutal, Patrick Sturt & Simon Garrod. 2008. Processing definitional and stereotypical gender in reference resolution: Evidence from eye-movements. Journal of Memory and Language 58(2). 239–261.10.1016/j.jml.2007.09.003Search in Google Scholar

Luke, Steven G. 2017. Evaluating significance in linear mixed-effects models in R. Behavior Research Methods 49(4). 1494–1502.10.3758/s13428-016-0809-ySearch in Google Scholar

MacDonald, Maryellen C., Amit Almor, Victor W. Henderson, Daniel Kempler & Elaine S. Andersen. 2001. Assessing working memory and language comprehension in Alzheimer’s disease. Brain and Language 78(1). 17–42.10.1006/brln.2000.2436Search in Google Scholar

McKoon, Gail & Roger Ratcliff. 1992. Inference during reading. Psychological Review 99(3). 440–466.10.1037/0033-295X.99.3.440Search in Google Scholar

Misersky, Julia, Pascal M. Gygax, Paolo Canal, Ute Gabriel, Alan Garnham, Friederike Braun, Tania Chiarini, Kjellrun Englund, Adriana Hanulíková, Anton Öttl, Jana Valdrova, Lisa Von Stockhausen & Sabine Sczesny. 2014. Norms on the gender perception of role nouns in Czech, English, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, and Slovak. Behavior Research Methods 46(3). 841–871.10.3758/s13428-013-0409-zSearch in Google Scholar

Mitchell, D. C. 1984. An evaluation of subject-paced reading tasks and other methods for investigating immediate processes in reading. In David Kieras & Marcel A. Just (eds.), New methods in reading comprehension research, 69–89. Hillsdale, N.J.: Erlbaum.10.4324/9780429505379-4Search in Google Scholar

Molinaro, Nicola, Jui-Ju Su & Manuel Carreiras. 2016. Stereotypes override grammar: Social knowledge in sentence comprehension. Brain and Language 155–156. 36–43.10.1016/j.bandl.2016.03.002Search in Google Scholar

Norris, Catherine J., E. Elinor Chen, David C. Zhu, Steven L. Small & John T. Cacioppo. 2004. The interaction of social and emotional processes in the brain. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 16(10). 1818–1829.10.1162/0898929042947847Search in Google Scholar

Oakhill, Jane, Alan Garnham & David Reynolds. 2005. Immediate activation of stereotypical gender information. Memory & Cognition 33(6). 972–983.10.3758/BF03193206Search in Google Scholar

Park, Denise & Angela Gutchess. 2006. The cognitive neuroscience of aging and culture. Current Directions in Psychological Science 15(3). 105–108.10.1111/j.0963-7214.2006.00416.xSearch in Google Scholar

Park, Denise C., Gary Lautenschlager, Trey Hedden, Natalie S. Davidson, Anderson D. Smith & Pamela K. Smith. 2002. Models of visuospatial and verbal memory across the adult life span. Psychology and Aging 17(2). 299–320.10.1037/0882-7974.17.2.299Search in Google Scholar

Payne, Brennan R. & Elizabeth A. L. Stine–Morrow. 2012. Aging, parafoveal preview, and semantic integration in sentence processing: Testing the cognitive workload of wrap-up. Psychology and Aging 27(3). 638–649.10.1037/a0026540Search in Google Scholar

Payne, Brennan R. & Elizabeth A. L. Stine-Morrow. 2016. Risk for mild cognitive impairment is associated with semantic integration deficits in sentence processing and memory. The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences 71(2). 243–253.10.1093/geronb/gbu103Search in Google Scholar

Peelle, Jonathan E., Vanessa Troiani, James Gee, Peachie Moore, Corey McMillan, Luisa Vesely & Murray Grossman. 2008. Sentence comprehension and voxel-based morphometry in progressive nonfluent aphasia, semantic dementia, and nonaphasic frontotemporal dementia. Journal of Neurolinguistics 21(5). 418–432.10.1016/j.jneuroling.2008.01.004Search in Google Scholar

R Core Team. 2018. R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria. URL https://www.R-project.org/.Search in Google Scholar

Radvansky, Gabriel A., Nicholas A. Lynchard & William von Hippel. 2009. Aging and Stereotype Suppression. Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition 16(1). 22–32.10.1080/13825580802187200Search in Google Scholar

Radvansky, Gabriel A., David E. Copeland & William von Hippel. 2010. Stereotype activation, inhibition, and aging. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 46(1). 51–60.10.1016/j.jesp.2009.09.010Search in Google Scholar

Reali, Chiara, Yulia Esaulova & Lisa von Stockhausen. 2015. Isolating stereotypical gender in a grammatical gender language: Evidence from eye movements. Applied Psycholinguistics 36(4). 977–1006.10.1017/S0142716414000010Search in Google Scholar

Reilly, Jamie & Jonathan E. Peelle. 2008. Effects of semantic impairment on language processing in semantic dementia. Seminar in Speech and Language 29(01). 32–43.10.1055/s-2008-1061623Search in Google Scholar

Singmann, Henrik, Ben Bolker, Jake Westfall & Frederik Aust. 2018. afex: Analysis of factorial experiments. R package, version 0.19-1.Search in Google Scholar

Siyanova-Chanturia, Anna, Francesca Pesciarelli & Cristina Cacciari. 2012. The electrophysiological underpinnings of processing gender stereotypes in language. PLoS One 7(12). e48712.10.1371/journal.pone.0048712Search in Google Scholar

Siyanova-Chanturia, Anna, Paul Warren, Francesca Pesciarelli & Cristina Cacciari. 2015. Gender stereotypes across the ages: On-line processing in school-age children, young and older adults. Frontiers in Psychology 6. 1388.10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01388Search in Google Scholar

Stine, Elizabeth L. 1990. On-line processing of written text by younger and older adults. Psychology and Aging 5(1). 68–78.10.1037/0882-7974.5.1.68Search in Google Scholar

Vasishth, Shravan. 2006. On the proper treatment of spillover in real-time reading studies: Consequences for psycholinguistic theories. Proceedings of the International Conference on Linguistic Evidence, 96–100. Tübingen, Germany.Search in Google Scholar

von Hippel, William, Lisa A. Silver & Molly E. Lynch. 2000. Stereotyping against your will: The role of inhibitory ability in stereotyping and prejudice among the elderly. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 26(5). 523–532.10.1177/0146167200267001Search in Google Scholar

White, Katherine R. G., Stephen L. Crites, Jennifer H. Taylor & Guadalupe Corral. 2009. Wait, what? Assessing stereotype incongruities using the N400 ERP component. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 4(2). 191–198.10.1093/scan/nsp004Search in Google Scholar

White, Katherine R. G., Rose H. Danek, David R. Herring, Jennifer H. Taylor & Stephen L. Crites. 2018. Taking priming to task. Social Psychology 49(1). 29–46.10.1027/1864-9335/a000326Search in Google Scholar

Wingfield, Arthur & Elizabeth A. L. Stine-Morrow. 2000. Language and speech. In Fergus I. M. Craik, & Timothy A. Salthouse (eds.), Handbook of aging and cognition, (2nd ed.), 359–416. Mahwah, N.J.: Erlbaum Associates.Search in Google Scholar

Received: 2018-05-05
Accepted: 2018-12-14
Published Online: 2019-06-22

©2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston