History of the Language in the Aging Brain Project

Since 1976, researchers from the Language in the Aging Brain project have been investigating the extent to which various language abilities change with healthy aging. By 1979, the project had developed into a longitudinal study, and, since that time, we have followed the same core group of individuals for over 25 years, examining an array of language abilities including lexical retrieval, auditory comprehension, discourse, vocabulary, verbal fluency, and verbal memory, as well as other cognitive processes that may influence language processes.

We have found that certain language abilities are maintained, or even improve, with age (e.g., vocabulary) and that other language abilities appear to decline with age (e.g., lexical retrieval, auditory comprehension). Our long-term goal is to understand and explain language changes in aging at the linguistic, cognitive, and neurological levels, and how these changes are influenced by health-related factors.

From 1976 to 1996, our program received Merit Review funding support from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Since 1996, the LAB project has been funded by the National Institutes of Health. Administratively, we are integrated within the Medical Research Service of the VA Boston Healthcare System and the Neurology Department at the Boston University School of Medicine.