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Syntactic prediction during self-paced reading is age invariant

Cutter, Michael G.; Paterson, Kevin B.; Filik, Ruth

Syntactic prediction during self-paced reading is age invariant Thumbnail


Michael G. Cutter

Kevin B. Paterson

Associate Professor


Controversy exists as to whether, compared to young adults, older adults are more, equally or less likely to make linguistic predictions while reading. While previous studies have examined age effects on the prediction of upcoming words, the prediction of upcoming syntactic structures has been largely unexplored. We compared the benefit that young and older readers gain when the syntactic structure is made predictable, as well as potential age differences in the costs involved in making predictions. In a self-paced reading study, 60 young and 60 older adults read sentences in which noun-phrase coordination (e.g. large pizza or tasty calzone) is made predictable through the inclusion of the word either earlier in the sentence. Results showed a benefit of the presence of either in the second half of the coordination phrase, and a cost of the presence of either in the first half. We observed no age differences in the benefit or costs of making these predictions; Bayes factor analyses offered strong evidence that these effects are age invariant. Together, these findings suggest that both older and younger adults make similar strength syntactic predictions with a similar level of difficulty. We relate this age invariance in syntactic prediction to specific aspects of the ageing process.


Cutter, M. G., Paterson, K. B., & Filik, R. (2023). Syntactic prediction during self-paced reading is age invariant. British Journal of Psychology, 114(1), 39-53.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 16, 2022
Online Publication Date Sep 14, 2022
Publication Date 2023-02
Deposit Date Aug 18, 2022
Publicly Available Date Sep 15, 2023
Journal British Journal of Psychology
Print ISSN 0007-1269
Electronic ISSN 2044-8295
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 114
Issue 1
Pages 39-53
Keywords General Psychology
Public URL
Publisher URL


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