The memory problem in normal aging has its roots in reduced efficiency in acquiring new information, and it is largely this limitation that later translates into memory failures. Our approach to this question is focused on rapid speech comprehension, and memory for what has been heard. A major factor we examine is the effect of reduced hearing acuity, as hearing loss, whether mild, moderate, or more severe, often accompanies normal aging. In addition to these sensory changes are age-sensitive reductions in the capacity of working memory and speed of perceptual processing that would paradoxically seem to predict far more serious decrements in spoken language comprehension than one actually sees in healthy aging. At the same time, the perceptual effort due to even a mild hearing loss may bring a cost to successful speech perception in the form of a draw on attentional resources that would otherwise be available for understanding speech with complex syntax, or encoding the speech in memory.
We use "time-compressed" speech on a computer to artificially increase speech rates beyond normal levels, while still maintaining the natural flow, timing and pitch contour of the speech. When older adults are tested, rates of decline in recall for unrelated word-lists can be five-times greater than for a matched group of young adults. We then use computer editing of the speech to add structural coherence, prosodic contour and linguistic constraints to the speech to explore how these features are used by older adults to bring their performance to a level more closely approaching that of the young. In this way we are able to examine the delicate interplay between "top-down" contextual support (at both the acoustic and linguistic levels) as it may be used to supplement the declining sensory, or "bottom-up" analysis of the acoustic signal itself. Dr. Wingfield and his collaborators also use functional brain imaging as an added tool in this exploration.
Dr. Wingfield received his doctorate in Experimental Psychology from Oxford University after receiving a Master’s degree in Speech Pathology and Audiology from Northwestern University. His research on spoken language comprehension and memory in adult aging has been recognized by two successive MERIT Awards from the National Institute on Aging, as well as an Editor’s Award from the Journal of Speech and Hearing Research for his early work on time-compressed speech. He is recipient of the 2010 Baltes Distinguished Research Achievement Award from Division 20 of the American Psychological Association and the Margaret M. and Paul B. Baltes Foundation in Berlin. He has been a visiting professor at the University of Cambridge, England, the University of Copenhagen, and UCLA.
Selected Publications (since 2004)
Amichetti NM, Stanley RS, White AG, Wingfield A. (2013). Monitoring the capacity of working memory: Executive control and effects of listening effort. Memory and Cognition, 41, 839-49.
Lash A, Rogers CS, Zoller A, Wingfield A. (2013). Expectation and entropy in spoken word recognition: effects of age and hearing acuity. Experimental Aging Research, 39, 235-53.
Brownell, H., Hoyte, K., Piquado, T., & Wingfield, A. (2012). Analytic methods for single subject and small sample aphasia research: Some illustrations and practical discussion. In M. Faust (Ed.), Handbook of the Neuropsychology of Language. Vol. 2: Language processing in the brain: Special populations (pp. 595- 618). Blackwell-Wiley.
Benichov J, Cox LC, Tun PA, Wingfield A. (2012). Word recognition within a linguistic context: effects of age, hearing acuity, verbal ability, and cognitive function. Ear and Hearing. 33, 250-6.
Wingfield, A., & Peelle, J.E. (2012). How does hearing loss affect the brain? Aging Health, 8, 107-109.
Stanley, R., Tun, P.A., Brownell, H., & Wingfield, A. (2012). Hidden costs of effortful listening on speech comprehension. In T.P. Long & L.R. Eifert (Eds.), Speech processing and auditory processing disorders: Causes, diagnosis and treatment. Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science Publishers.
Humes, L.E., Dubno, J.R., Gordon-Salant, S., Lister, J.J., Cacace, A.T., Cruickshanks, K.J., Gates, G.A., Wilson,. R.H., & Wingfield, A. (2012). Central presbycusis: A review and evaluation of the evidence. Journal of the American Academy of Audiology, 23, 635-666.
Piquado, T., Benichov, J.I., Brownell, H., & Wingfied, A. (2012). The hidden effect of hearing acuity on speech recall, and compensatory effects of self-paced listening. International Journal of Audiology, 51, 576-583.
Peelle, J.E., Troiani, V., Grossman, M., & Wingfield, A. (2011). Hearing Loss in Older Adults Affects Neural Systems Supporting Speech Comprehension. Journal of Neuroscience, 31, 12638-12643.
Piquado, T., Cousins, A.Q., Wingfield, A., & Miller, P. (2010). Effects of degraded sensory input on memory for speech: Behavioral data and a test of biologically constrained computational models. Brain Research, doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2010.09.070.
Tun, P.A., Benichov, J., & Wingfield, A. Response latencies in auditory sentence comprehension: Effects of linguistic versus perceptual challenge. Psychology and Aging. 2010 Sep;25(3):730-5.
Miller, P. & Wingfield, A. (2010) Distinct effects of perceptual quality on auditory word recognition, memory formation and recall in a neural model of sequential memory. Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience. 4:14. doi:10.3389/fnsys. 2010.00014
Piquado, T., Isaacopwitz, D., & Wingfield, A. (2010). Pupillometry as a measure of cognitive effort in younger and older adults. Psychophysiology, 47, 560-569.
Peelle, J., E., Troiani, V., Wingfield, A., & Grossman, M. (2010). Neural processing during older adults’ comprehension of spoken sentences: Age differences in resource allocation and connectivity. Cerebral Cortex, 20, 773-782.
Brownell, H., Hoyte, K., Piquado, T., & Wingfield, A. Analytic methods for single subject and small sample aphasia research: Some illustrations and practical discussion. In M. Faust (Ed.), Handbook of the Neuropsychology of Language. Vol. 2: Language processing in the brain: Special populations. Blackwell-Wiley.
Tun, P.A., McCoy, S., & Wingfield, A. (2009). Aging, hearing acuity, and the attentional costs of effortful listening. Psychology and Aging, 24, 761-766.
Stewart, R., & Wingfield, A. (2009). Hearing loss and cognitive effort in older adults’ report accuracy for verbal materials. Journal of the American Academy of Audiology, 20, 147-154.
Hoyte, K.J., Brownell, H., & Wingfield, A. (2009). Components of speech prosody and their use in detection of syntactic structure by older adults. Experimental Aging Research, 35, 129-151.
Cox, L.C., McCoy, S.L., Tun, P.A., & Wingfield, A. (2008). Monotic auditory processing
disorder tests in the older adult population. Journal of the American Academy of Audiology, 19, 293-308.
Golomb, J., Peelle, J.E., Addis, K.M., Kahana, M.J., & Wingfield, A. (2008). Effects of adult aging on utilization of temporal and semantic associations during free and serial recall. Memory & Cognition, 36, 947-956.
Stewart, R., Yetton, E., & Wingfield, A. (2008). Perception of alternated speech operates similarly in young and older adults with age-normal hearing. Perception & Psychophysics. 70, 337-345.
Wingfield, A., Panizzon, M., Grant, M.D., Toomey, R., Kremen, W., Franz, C.E., Jacobson, K.C., Eisen,S.A., & Lyons, M. (2007). A twin-study of genetic contributions to hearing acuity in late middle-age. Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences, 62A, 1294-1299.
Reilly, J., Troiani, V., Grossman, M., & Wingfield, A. (2007). An introduction to hearing loss and screening procedures for behavioral research. Behavior Research Methods, 39, 667-672.
Golomb, J.D., Peelle, J.E., & Wingfield, A. (2007). Effects of stimulus variability and adult aging on adaptation to time-compressed speech. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 121, 1701-1708.
Wingfield, A., & Tun, P.A. (2007). Cognitive supports and cognitive constraints on comprehension of spoken language. Journal of the American Academy of Audiology, 18, 567-577.
Miller, L.M.S., Cohen, J.A., & Wingfield, A. (2006). Knowledge reduces demands on working memory during reading. Memory and Cognition, 34, 1355-1367.
Howard, M.W., Kahana, M.J., & Wingfield, A. (2006). Aging and contextual binding: Modeling recency and lag-recency with the temporal context model. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 13, 439-445.
Wingfield, A., & Grossman, M. (2006). Language and the aging brain: Patterns of neural compensation revealed by functional brain imaging. Journal of Neurophysiology, 96, 2830-2839.
Wingfield, A., Tun, P.A., McCoy, S.L.., Stewart, R.A., & Cox, L.C. (2006). Sensory and cognitive constraints in comprehension of spoken language in adult aging. Seminars in Hearing, 27, 273-283.
Sekuler, R., McLaughlin, C., Kahana, M.J., Wingfield, A., & Yotsumoto, Y. (2006). Short-term visual recognition and temporal order memory are both well-preserved in aging. Psychology and Aging, 21, 632-637.
Zaromb, F.M., Howard, M.W., Dolan, E.D., Sirotin, Y.B., Tully, M., Wingfield, A., & Kahana, M.J. (2006). Temporal associations and prior-list intrusions in free recall. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory & Cognition, 32, 792-804.
Wingfield, A., McCoy, S.L., Peelle, J.E., Tun, P.A., & Cox, L.C. (2006). Effects of adult aging and hearing loss on comprehension of rapid speech varying in syntactic complexity. Journal of the American Academy of Audiology,
Titone, D.A., Koh, C.K., Kjelgaard, M.M., Bruce, S., Speer, S,R., & Wingfield, A.(2006). Age-related impairments in the revision of syntactic misanalyses: Effects of prosody. Language and Speech, 49, 75-99.
Little, D.M., McGrath, L.M., Prentice, K.J., & Wingfield, A. (2006). Semantic
encoding of spoken sentences: Adult aging and the preservation of conceptual short-term memory. Applied Psycholinguistics, 27, 487-511.
Wingfield, A., Brownell, H., & Hoyte, K. (2006). Variable solutions to the same problem: Aberrant practice effects in object naming by three aphasic patients. Brain and Language, 97. 351-356.
Little, D.M., Prentice, K.J., Darrow, A.W., & Wingfield, A. (2005). Listening to
spoken text: Adult age differences as revealed by self-paced listening. Experimental Aging Research, 31, 313-330.
Fallon, M., Peelle, J.E. & Wingfield, A. (2006). Spoken sentence processing in young and older adults modulated by task demands: Evidence from self-paced listening. Journal of Genrontology: Psychological Sciences, 61B, P310-P17.
Peelle, J.E., & Wingfield, A. (2005). Dissociations in perceptual learning revealed by
adult age differences in adaptation to time-compressed speech. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 31, 1315-1330.
Wingfield, A., Tun, P.A., & McCoy, S.L. (2005). Hearing loss in older adulthood: What it is and how it interacts with cognitive performance. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 14, 144-148.
McCoy, S.L., Tun, P.A., Cox, L.C., & Wingfield, A. (2005). Aging in a fast-paced world: Rapid speech and its effect on understanding. The ASHA Leader, July 12, pp. 30-31.
Sekuler, R., Kahana, M.J., McLaughlin, C., Golomb, J., & Wingfield, A. (2005). Preservation of episodic visual recognition memory in aging. Experimental Aging Research, 31, 1-13.
Kahana, M.J., Dolan, E.D., Sauder, C,L., & Wingfield, A. (2005). Intrusions in episodic recall: Age differences in editing of overt responses. Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, 60B, P92-P97.
McCoy, S.L., Tun, P.A., Cox, L.C., Colangelo, M., Stewart, R.A., & Wingfield, A. (2005). Hearing loss and perceptual effort: Downstream effects on older adults’ memory for speech. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 58A, 22-33.
Wingfield, A., Tun, P.A., O’Kane, G., & Peelle, J.E. (2005). Language comprehension in complex environments: Distraction by competing speech in young and older adult listeners. In S.P. Shohov (Ed.), Advances in Psychology Research,Vol. 33 (pp 3-38). Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science Publishers.
Peelle, J.E., McMillan, C., Moore, P., Grossman, M., & Wingfield, A. (2004). Dissociable patterns of brain activity during comprehension of rapid and syntactically complex speech: Evidence from fMRI. Brain and Language, 91, 315-325.
Fallon, M., Kuchinsky, S., & Wingfield, A. (2004). The salience of linguistic clauses in young and older adults’ running memory for speech. Experimental Aging Research, 30, 359-371.
Little, D.M., Prentice, K.J., & Wingfield, A. (2004). Adult age differences in judgments of semantic fit. Applied Psycholinguistics, 25, 135-143.
Naeser, M.A., Martin, P.I., Baker, E.H., Hodge, S.M, Sczerzenie, S.E., Nicholas, M., Palumbo, C.L., Goodglass, H., Wingfield, A., Samaraweera, R., Harris, G., Baird, A., Renshaw, P., Yurgelun-Todd, D. (2004). Overt propositional speech in chronic nonfluent aphasia studied with the dynamic susceptibility contrast fMRI method.NeuroImage, 22, 29-41.
Lahar, C., Tun, P. A., Wingfield, A. (2004). Sentence-Final Word Completion Norms for Young Middle-Aged, and Older Adults. Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, 59B, P7-P10.
Last reviewed: December 9, 2013.