The most frequently used tests for assessing executive functions in aging

Os testes neuropsicológicos mais utilizados para avaliar funções executivas no envelhecimento

Camila de Assis Faria Heloisa Veiga Dias Alves Helenice Charchat-Fichman About the authors

There are numerous neuropsychological tests for assessing executive functions in aging, which vary according to the different domains assessed.


To present a systematic review of the most frequently used instruments for assessing executive functions in older adults with different educational levels in clinical and experimental research.


We searched for articles published in the last five years, using the PubMed database with the following terms: "neuropsychological tests", "executive functions", and "mild cognitive impairment". There was no language restriction.


25 articles fulfilled all the inclusion criteria. The seven neuropsychological tests most frequently used to evaluate executive functions in aging were: [1] Trail Making Test (TMT) Form B; [2] Verbal Fluency Test (VFT) - F, A and S; [3] VFT Animals category; [4] Clock Drawing Test (CDT); [5] Digits Forward and Backward subtests (WAIS-R or WAIS-III); [6] Stroop Test; and [7] Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST) and its variants. The domains of executive functions most frequently assessed were: mental flexibility, verbal fluency, planning, working memory, and inhibitory control.


The study identified the tests and domains of executive functions most frequently used in the last five years by research groups worldwide to evaluate older adults. These results can direct future research and help build evaluation protocols for assessing executive functions, taking into account the different educational levels and socio-demographic profiles of older adults in Brazil.

review; mild cognitive impairment; dementia; older adults; executive functions; neuropsychological tests

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