Can cognitive aging contribute to fundamental psychological theory? Repetition deafness as a test case

Donald G. MacKay, Michelle Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Scopus citations


This study concretely illustrates the Birren-Fisher strategy (1991), the use of well-established aging effects to understand fundamental but poorly understood phenomena in mainstream psychology. Our well-established aging effects included inhibition deficits and new learning deficits, and our poorly understood mainstream phenomenon was repetition deafness (RD), the reduced immediate recall of repeated words in computer compressed speech. Applying the Birren-Fisher strategy to RD successfully showed that RD is fundamentally similar to repetition blindness, that normal prosody eliminates RD for both young and older participants, and that age-linked connection formation problems cause RD, but not inhibition, perceptual fusion, or an absolute refractory period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)169-186
Number of pages18
JournalAging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1996
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology

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