Is Age-related Decline in Vocal Emotion Identification an Artefact of Labelling Cognitions?

  •  Rachel Mitchell    
  •  Rachel Kingston    


Evidence has emerged that older adults find it more difficult to interpret prosodic emotions than younger adults.
However, typical tasks involve labelling-related cognitions over and above emotion perception per se. Accordingly, we aimed to determine if age-related difficulty in prosodic emotion labelling extended to discrimination, which is more closely related to emotion perception per se. For this purpose, 45 younger adults
(mean age 20 years, 2 males/43 females) and 45 older adults (mean age 71 years, 16 males/29 females) were recruited. In one task, participants heard pairs of sentences and were asked to indicate whether they were spoken with the same emotional intonational or not. In a second task, they heard sentences with intonation conveying a question or statement, and indicated whether the non-emotional intonation patterns matched or not. Older adults’ performance consistently fell below that of younger adults. Older adults may have a generic prosodic decoding deficit, regardless of the end function of the prosody.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.