Individual differences in working memory and semantic fluency predict younger and older adults' multimodal recipient design in an interactive spatial task
Schubotz, L., Özyürek, A., & Holler, J.
Individual differences in working memory and semantic fluency predict younger and older adults' multimodal recipient design in an interactive spatial task. Acta Psychologica, 229
: 103690. doi:10.1016/j.actpsy.2022.103690.
Aging appears to impair the ability to adapt speech and gestures based on knowledge shared with an addressee
(common ground-based recipient design) in narrative settings. Here, we test whether this extends to spatial settings
and is modulated by cognitive abilities. Younger and older adults gave instructions on how to assemble 3D-
models from building blocks on six consecutive trials. We induced mutually shared knowledge by either
showing speaker and addressee the model beforehand, or not. Additionally, shared knowledge accumulated
across the trials. Younger and crucially also older adults provided recipient-designed utterances, indicated by a
significant reduction in the number of words and of gestures when common ground was present. Additionally, we
observed a reduction in semantic content and a shift in cross-modal distribution of information across trials.
Rather than age, individual differences in verbal and visual working memory and semantic fluency predicted the
extent of addressee-based adaptations. Thus, in spatial tasks, individual cognitive abilities modulate the inter-
active language use of both younger and older adul