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Testing Age Invariance in Language Processes

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Conclusion

We believe the methodological proposals in this chapter can help focus theoretical controversies about the role of age in the processing of language. Of course (unfortunately), the experimental paradigms we propose do not substitute for good theory. Especially in the case of syntactic complexity, we apparently are only at the beginning of understanding the interplay of language-related and general cognitive mechanisms such as working memory or processing rate. Models tracing age differences to some form of general resource deficiency were based on data from experimental paradigms that frequently confounded task difficulty with task complexity. We are optimistic that experimental control of unspecific task difficulty is like removing a veil under which effects linked to theoretical notions of processing complexity will appear in a clear view.

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