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Temas em Psicologia

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COMESANA, Ana  and  CONI, Ana García. Analysis of verbal fluency tasks in alzheimer's disease patients and healthy adults. Temas psicol. [online]. 2013, vol.21, n.1, pp. 269-281. ISSN 1413-389X.

Verbal fluency tasks are widely used to assess cognitive functioning, due to its simplicity and ease of administration. They are divided into semantic and phonemic, and require the recall of words of a given category and words that begin with a certain letter, respectively, in a limited period of time. Both tasks involve search and retrieval in semantic memory, and executive functioning. In order to study these cognitive functions in Alzheimer's disease, semantic (animals) and phonemic (words beginning with p) fluency tasks were applied to 40 healthy adults and 31 Alzheimer's disease patients, matched for age, gender and educational level, as these tasks have proven to be sensitive to the cognitive impairment characteristic of this disease. We considered the number of correct words generated, the mean cluster size and the number of switches. To analyze the differences between groups we used a t-test and found that the number of correct words generated (p < .001) and the number of switches (semantic fluency: p < .001; phonemic fluency: p = .005) were statistically different in both tasks, whereas no differences were found regarding the mean cluster size. These results show an executive failure and, therefore, bring evidence that favors the idea that an executive impairment, and not only a mnesic one, is characteristic of this disease.

Keywords : Verbal fluency; Alzheimer's disease; cognitive functioning.

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