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date: 17 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Language attrition research often focuses on adults living in non-native language environments for many years. Many of these individuals are older adults when tested. Because certain aspects of language are vulnerable to both attrition and ageing (e.g., lexical retrieval), some of the changes observed for language attriters may be due in part to ageing. In this chapter we ask: Are native-language changes for older adult attriters solely a result of reduced levels of native-language use or are they due in part to ageing? We consider neurophysiological changes that may play a role in language attrition and in non-pathological ageing to speculate whether the neurobiological sources of these two processes are similar or different. As attrition and ageing appear to exert independent effects on lexical retrieval decline, one must consider the effects of each of these factors on lexical retrieval for older adult bilinguals immersed in a non-native language environment

Keywords: ageing, word retrieval, length of residence, brain, synapses, executive functions, lexical retrieval, attrition

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