Changes in reliance on reading and spelling sub-skills across the lifespan

Ian Stuart-Hamilton, Peter Mayer, Kevin Crowley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There is considerable evidence of the importance of phonological skills in reading and spelling in children. However, there is a paucity of studies regarding their position in younger or later adulthood reading where intellectual skills are usually seen in terms of their relationship with general intelligence. In the current study, children and younger and older adults matched for fluid intelligence were compared on measures of phonological processing, fluid intelligence and reading, and spelling. In children and younger adults, the best predictors of reading and spelling were phonological skills. In older adults, the best predictors were fluid intelligence and chronological age. Reasons for this are discussed, but they probably reflect the increasing effects of general ageing changes affecting a broad spectrum of abilities. In spite of these considerations, older adults maintained the same general reading and spelling abilities as younger adults, indicating powerful compensation skills.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)503 - 522
Number of pages19
JournalEducational Gerontology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 8 May 2009


  • reading and spelling sub-skills
  • lifespan


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