Advertisement

Prosodic Perception in Aging Individuals: a Focus on Intonation

  • Amebu Seddoh
  • Afua Blay
  • Richard Ferraro
  • Wayne Swisher
Article
  • 57 Downloads

Abstract

Studies indicate that older adults have diminished ability to decode prosodic information. However, the precise nature and basis of this deficit have proved difficult to uncover. Although prosody itself is poorly understood, one of its components, intonation, has been shown to be context-dependent. The present study sought to determine whether intonation perception problems for aging individuals are related to stimulus contextual factors. In two experiments, older and younger adults were asked to identify emotional (happiness, sadness) and nonemotional meanings signaled by intonation. Stimuli used were sentences with basic (Experiment 1) and non-basic (Experiment 2) word order. Those conveying emotional meanings were either accompanied or unaccompanied by contextual information. The older adults performed comparably with the younger adults on all tasks in Experiment 1 except identification of sadness in decontextualized stimuli. By contrast, their performance in Experiment 2 not only fell below that of the younger adults across the board, but it also differed according to emotion type. Both groups performed better on decoding intonation in contextualized than decontextualized stimuli. These findings suggest that intonation perception problems for older adults might be related to stimulus contextual factors including syntax. They are discussed in terms of neurobiological factors, particularly age related changes in the brain.

Keywords

Prosody Intonation Older adults Emotion Positivity bias Contextual information 

Notes

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Human and Animal Rights

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards (see pages 5 and 16).

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Conflict of Interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

References

  1. Allard, S., Gosein, V., Cuello, A. C., & Ribeiro-da-Silva (2011). Changes with aging in the dopaminergic and noradrenergic innervation of rat neocortex. Neuorobiology of Aging 32(12), 2244–2253.Google Scholar
  2. Allen, R., & Brosgole, L. (1993). Facial and auditory affect recognition in senile geriatrics, the normal elderly and younger adults. International Journal of Neuroscience, 68(1–2), 33–42.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Armstrong, M. E., & Prieto, P. (2015). The contribution of context and contour to perceived belief in polar questions. Journal of Pragmatics, 81, 77–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Banse, R., & Scherer, K. R. (1996). Acoustic profiles in vocal emotion expression. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70(3), 614–636.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Barrett, L. F., Mesquita, B., & Gendron, M. (2011). Context in emotion perception. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 20(5), 286–290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Beeke, S., Wilkinson, R., & Maxim, J. (2003). Exploring aphasic grammar 2: Do language testing and conversation tell a similar story? Clinical Linguistics and Phonetics, 17(2), 109–134.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Bilodeau-Mercure, M., Lortie, C. L., Sato, M., Guitton, M. J., & Tremblay, P. (2015). The neurobiology of speech perception decline in aging. Brain Structure and Function, 220(2), 979–997.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Brassen, S., Gamer, M., & Büchel, C. (2011). Anterior cingulate activation is related to a positivity bias and emotional stability in successful aging. Biological Psychiatry, 70(2), 131–137.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Brosgole, L., & Weisman, J. (1995). Mood recognition across the ages. International Journal of Neuroscience, 82(3–4), 169–189.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Calder, A. J., Keane, J., Manly, T., Sprengelmeyer, R., Scot, S., Nimmo-Smith, I., & Younger, A. W. (2003). Facial expression recognition across the adult life span. Neuropsychologia, 41(2), 195–202.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Cauldwell, R. T. (2000, September). Where did the anger go? The role of context in interpreting emotion in speech. Newcastle, Northern Ireland: Paper presented at ISCA Workshop on Speech and Emotion.Google Scholar
  12. Cutler A (1977) The context-dependence of intonational meanings. Papers from the 13th regional meeting, Chicago: Chicago linguistic society, pp. 104–115.Google Scholar
  13. D’Esposito, M. (1999). Cognitive aging: New answers to older questions. Current Biology, 9(24), R939–R941.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Di Domenico, A., Palumbo, R., Mammarella, N., & Fairfield, B. (2015). Aging and emotional expressions: Is there a positivity bias during dynamic emotion recognition? Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 1130.  https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01130.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  15. Diaz, M. T., Johnson, M. A., Burke, D. M., & Madden, D. J. (2014). Age-related differences in the neural bases of phonological and semantic processes. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 26(12), 2798–2811.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  16. Dilley, L. C., Ladd, D. R., & Schepman, A. (2005). Alignment of L and H in bitonal pitch accents: Testing two hypotheses. Journal of Phonetics, 33(1), 115–119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Dryer, M. S. (2007). Word order. In T. Shopen (Ed.), Language typology and syntactic description (Vol. 1, pp. 61–131). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Dupuis, K., & Pichora-Fuller, M. K. (2010). Use of affective prosody by younger and older adults. Psychology and Aging, 25(1), 16–29.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Dupuis, K., & Pichora-Fuller, M. K. (2015). Aging affects identification of vocal emotions in semantically neutral sentences. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 58(3), 1061–1076.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Ekman, P. (1999). Facial expressions. In T. Dalgleish & M. Power (Eds.), Handbook of cognition and emotion (pp. 301–320). Sussex, United Kingdom: Wiley.Google Scholar
  21. Fairfield, B., Di Domenico, A., Serricchio, S., Borella, E., & Mammarella, N. (2017). Emotional prosody effects on verbal memory in olderer and youngerer adults. Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition, 24(4), 408–417.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Ferrier, I. N., & McKeith, I. G. (1991). Neuroanatomical and neurochemical changes in affective disorders in older age. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 6(6), 445–451.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Friedmann, N., & Shapiro, L. P. (2003). Agrammatic comprehension of simple active sentences with moved constituents: Hebrew OSV and OVS. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 46(2), 288–297.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  24. Friedmann, N., Reznick, J., Dolinski-Nuger, D., & Soboleva, K. (2010). Comprehension and production of movement-derived sentences by Russian speakers with agrammatic aphasia. Journal of Neurolinguistics, 23(1), 44–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Gates, G. A., & Mills, J. H. (2005). Presbycusis. Lancet, 366(9491), 1111–1120.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Grady, C. L. (2000). Functional brain imaging and age-related changes in cognition. Biological Psychology, 54(1–3), 259–281.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Hammerschmidt, K., & Jürgens, U. (2006). Acoustical correlates of affective prosody. Journal of Voice, 21(5), 531–540.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Hawkins, S., & Warren, P. (1994). Phonetic influences on the intelligibility of conversational speech. Journal of Phonetics, 22(4), 493–511.Google Scholar
  29. Holderen, K. T., & Hogan, J. T. (1993). The emotive impact of foreign intonation: An experiment in switching English and Russian intonation. Language and Speech, 36(1), 67–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hornak, J., Bramham, J., Rolls, E. T., Morris, R. G., O’Doherty, J., Bullock, P. R., & Polkey, C. E. (2003). Changes in emotion after circumscribed surgical lesions of the orbitofrontal and cingulate cortices. Brain, 126(7), 1691–1712.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Humes, L. E., Dubno, J. R., Gordon-Salan, 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(8), 635–666.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Juncos-Rabadán, O., & Iglesias, F. J. (1994). Decline in the elderly’s language: Evidence from cross-linguistic data. Journal of Neurolinguistics, 8(3), 183–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Kaasinen, V., Vilkman, H., Hietala, J., Någren, K., Helenius, H., Olsson, H., Farde, L., & Rinne, J. O. (2000). Age-related dopamine D2/D3 receptor loss in extrastriatal regions of the human brain. Neurobiology of Aging, 21(5), 683–688.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Kemper, S., Greiner, L. H., Marquis, J. G., Prenovost, K., & Mitzner, T. L. (2001). Language decline across the life span: Findings from the nun study. Psychology and Aging, 16(2), 227–239.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Kiss, I., & Ennis, T. (2001). Age-related decline in perception of prosodic affect. Applied Neuropsychology, 8(4), 251–254.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. Ladd, D. R., Mennen, I., & Schepman, A. (2000). Phonological conditioning of peak alignment in rising pitch accents in Dutch. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 107(5), 2685–2696.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Laval, V., & Bert-Erboul, A. (2005). French-speaking children’s understanding of sarcasm: The role of intonation and context. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 48(3), 610–620.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Leonard, L. B. (1974). The role of intonation in the recall of various linguistic stimuli. Language and Speech, 16, 327–335.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Liberman, M., & Pierrehumbert, J. (1984). Intonational invariance under changes in pitch range and length. In M. Aronoff & R. T. Oehrle (Eds.), Language sound structure: Studies in phonology presented to Morris Halle by his teacher and students (pp. 157–233). Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  40. Mather, M., Canli, T., English, T., Whitfield, S., Wais, P., Ochsner, K., Gabrieli, J. D. E., & Carstensen, L. L. (2004). Amygdala responses to emotionally valenced stimuli in olderer and youngerer adults. Psychological Science, 15(4), 259–263.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. Mecocci, P., Cherubini, A., Mariani, E., Ruggiero, C., & Senin, U. (2004). Depression in the elderly: New concepts and therapeutic approaches. Aging, Clinical and Experimental Research, 16, 176–189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Meyer, F. (2009). Introducing English linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Mitchell, R. L. C. (2007). Age-related decline in the ability to decode emotional prosody: Primary or secondary phenomenon? Cognition and Emotion, 21(7), 1435–1454.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Mitchell, R. L. C., & Kingston, R. A. (2014). Age-related decline in emotional prosody discrimination: Acoustic correlates. Experimental Psychology, 61(3), 215–223.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. Mitchell, R. L. C., Kingston, R. A., & Barbosa Bouças, S. L. (2011). The specificity of age-related decline in interpretation of emotion cues from prosody. Psychology and Aging, 26(2), 406–414.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. Orbelo, D. M., Grim, M. A., Talbott, R. E., & Ross, E. D. (2005). Impaired comprehension of affective prosody in elderly subjects is not predicted by age-related hearing loss or age-related cognitive deficits. Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neurology, 18(1), 25–32.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  47. Raithel, V., & Hielscher-Fastabend, M. (2004). Emotional and linguistic perception of prosody: Reception of prosody. Folia Phoniatrica et Logopaedica, 56(1), 7–13.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. Reed, A. E., & Carstensen (2012). The theory behind the age-related positivity effect. Frontiers in Psychology, 3(339), 1–9.Google Scholar
  49. Richter, D., Dietzel, C., & Kunzmann, U. (2010). Age differences in emotion recognition: The task matters. Journals of Gerontology: Series B: Psychological Sciences, 66B(1), 48–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Ruffman, T., Henry, J. D., Livingstone, V., & Phillips, L. H. (2008). A meta-analytic review of emotion recognition and aging: Implications for neuropsychological models of aging. Neuroscience and Behavioral Reviews, 32(4), 863–881.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Ryan, M., Murray, J., & Ruffman, T. (2010). Aging and the perception of emotion: Processing vocal expressions alone and with faces. Experimental Aging Research, 36(1), 1–22.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  52. Scherer. (1986). Vocal affect expression: A review and a model for future research. Psychological Bulletin, 99(2), 143–165.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  53. Scherer, K. R. (2013). Vocal markers of emotion: Comparing induction and acting elicitation. Computer Speech and Language, 27(1), 40–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Scukanec, G. P., Petrosino, L., & Colcord, R. D. (1996). Age-related differences in acoustical aspects of contrastive stress in women. Folia Phoniatrica et Logopaedica, 48(5), 231–239.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  55. Sheppard, J. P., Wang, J.-P., & Wong, P. C. M. (2011). Large-scale cortical functional organization and speech perception across the lifespan. PLoS One, 6(1), e16510.  https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0016510.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  56. Silverman, K. E. A. (1987). The structure and processing of fundamental frequency contours. University of Cambridge: Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation.Google Scholar
  57. Taler, V., Baum, S., & Saumier, D. (2006). Perception of linguistic and affective prosody in youngerer and olderer adults. In R. Sun (Ed.), Proceedings of the 28th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 2216–2221) Canada.Google Scholar
  58. Tauber, S. K., James, L. E., & Noble, P. M. (2010). The effects of age on using prosody to convey meaning and on judging communicative effectiveness. Psychology and Aging, 25(3), 702–707.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  59. Wildgruber, D., Ethofer, T., Grandjean, D., & Kreifelts, B. (2009). A cerebral network model of speech prosody comprehension. International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 11(4), 277–281.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Wong, B., Cronin-Golomb, A., & Neargarder, S. (2005). Patterns of visual scanning as predictors of emotion identification in normal aging. Neuropsychology, 19(6), 739–749.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  61. Woodland, J., & Voyer, D. (2011). Context and intonation in the perception of sarcasm. Metaphor and Symbol, 26(3), 227–239.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Yasunaga, D., Yano, M., Yasugi, T., & Koizumi, M. (2015). Is the subject-before-object preference universal? An event-related potential study in the Kaqchikel Mayan language. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 30(9), 1209–1229.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amebu Seddoh
    • 1
  • Afua Blay
    • 1
  • Richard Ferraro
    • 2
  • Wayne Swisher
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Communication Sciences and DisordersUniversity of North DakotaGrand ForksUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of North DakotaGrand ForksUSA

Personalised recommendations