Validated measures of semantic knowledge and semantic control: Normative data from young and older adults for more than 300 semantic judgements

Wei Wu, Paul Hoffman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Recent studies suggest that knowledge representations and control processes are the two key components underpinning semantic cognition, and are also crucial indicators of the shifting cognitive architecture of semantics in later life. Although there are many standardized assessments that provide measures of the quantity of semantic knowledge participants possess, normative data for tasks that probe semantic control processes are not yet available. Here, we present normative data from more than 200 young and older participants on a large set of stimuli in two semantic tasks, which probe controlled semantic processing (feature-matching task) and semantic knowledge (synonym judgement task). We verify the validity of our norms by replicating established age- and psycholinguistic-property-related effects on semantic cognition. Specifically, we find that older people have more detailed semantic knowledge than young people but have less effective semantic control processes. We also obtain expected effects of word frequency and inter-item competition on performance. Parametrically varied difficulty levels are defined for half of the stimuli based on participants’ behavioral performance, allowing future studies to produce customized sets of experimental stimuli based on our norms. We provide all stimuli, data and code used for analysis, in the hope that they are useful to other researchers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-19
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Volume9
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 16 Feb 2022

Keywords

  • semantic cognition
  • cognitive ageing
  • executive function
  • knowledge

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