Naming Nouns and Verbs in Older Adults – Age-Related Changes

Dr. Bojana Drljan & Dr. Nevena Ječmenica

Department for Speech and Language Pathology, Faculty of Special Education and Rehabilitation, University of Belgrade, Belgrade, Serbia


Research data on pathological language degradation suggest noun-verb dissociation, which prompts research in the field of normal aging in this direction. However, there are few studies in the literature that address semantic deterioration in the domain of verbs and the relationship between difficulties in naming these two types of content words during normal aging. The aim of the research was to compare the naming of verbs and nouns in healthy older adults and to qualitatively analyse the differences and errors in naming. The sample consisted of 101 participants without a history of neurological diseases, divided into 3 age decades. The Boston Naming Test was used as an instrument to assess noun naming, and the Action Naming Task was used to assess verb naming. Results from the whole sample showed that males performed better on both noun and verb naming (p<.05), and that higher educational level had an effect on the older adults' better performance. Comparative analysis revealed that participants had more difficulty naming nouns than verbs. Analysis of changes between age groups showed significant differences in the number of correct and omitted responses only in the area of naming objects (p<.05), while these differences were not found in the naming of verbs (p>.05). The results of our study show a significant semantic deterioration with age in the noun domain, but not in the verb domain. This could be a consequence of the different organization of nouns and verbs in the mental lexicon, supported by different brain regions and neural networks.

Keywords: Noun Naming, Verb Naming, Healthy Aging, Semantic Deterioration     


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