The effect of age and educational level on the cognitive processes used to comprehend the meaning of pictograms
- 275 Downloads
Background and aims
Pictograms, designed to be a universal communication system, are often created from several concrete and easily recognizable drawings. Does understanding depend on a logical approach? Or is it the ability to inhibit the concrete sense of each picture that allows access to a higher level of comprehension? (ability to abstract). These executive functions are sensitive to the effects of aging and educational level. The aim of our study was to evaluate the nature of the cognitive processes underlying the meaning of pictograms and to test the effect of aging and educational level.
We enrolled 19 older adults (60–69 years old) and 63 young adults (20–29 years old). Of these 63 young adults, 43 had a high educational level (Young-High participants), and 20 had a lower educational level (Young-Low participants). Each participant was asked the meaning of 20 pictograms and underwent an assessment of abstraction and logical abilities with WAIS-III test.
Older adults had lower pictogram assessment scores and abstraction and logical abilities when compared with young adults. In both groups, abstraction and logical abilities were correlated with the interpretation of pictograms but only abstraction ability remains strongly correlated with pictogram comprehension in the older group after adjustment of sex, age and educational level. Consequently, the poorer performances of older adults to determine the meaning of pictograms could be explained by the decline of abstraction ability in elderly.
Pictograms are not the universal communication system as we formerly thought. Age and educational level may influence the performance in determining the meaning of pictograms.
KeywordsPictograms Executive functions Aging Education
Conflict of interest
- 1.Tijus C, Barcenilla J, Cambon de Lavalette B, Meunier JG (2005) The design, understanding and usage of pictograms. In: Alamargot D, Terrier P, Cellier JM (eds) Improving the production and understanding of written documents in the workplace. Elsevier Publishers, Amsterdam, pp 17–32Google Scholar
- 3.Tourneux H (1994) L’interprétation paysanne des pictogrammes phytosanitaires. Agriculture et développement 1:10–13Google Scholar
- 6.Ells JG, Dewar RE (1979) Rapid comprehension of verbal and symbolic traffic sign messages. Hum Fact 21:161–168Google Scholar
- 11.Barcenilla J, Tijus C (2002) Compréhension et évaluation de pictogrammes: effets du contexte. Psychologie Française 47:55–64Google Scholar
- 12.Droste FG (1976) The grammar of traffic signs. Semiotica 5:256–262Google Scholar
- 14.Van der Linden M, Seron X, Le Gall D, Andres P (1999) Neuropsychologie des lobes frontaux. Solal, MarseilleGoogle Scholar
- 16.Lorenz-Reuter PA (2000) Cognitive neuropsychology of the aging brain. In: Park DC, Schwarz N (eds) Cognitive aging: a primer. Psychology Press, Philadelphia, pp 93–114Google Scholar
- 17.Raz N (2000) Aging of the brain and its impact on cognitive performance: integration of structural and functional findings. In: Craik FIM, Salthouse TA (eds) The handbook of aging and cognition, 2nd edn. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah, pp 1–90Google Scholar
- 18.Plumet J, Gil R, Gaonac’h D (2005) Neuropsychological assessment of executive functions in women: effects of age and education. Neuropsychology 195:66–77Google Scholar
- 22.Daigneault G, Joly P, Frigon JY (2002) Executive functions in the evaluation of accident risk of older drivers. J Clin Exp Neuropsychol 2002(24):221–238Google Scholar