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Dementia & Neuropsychologia

Print version ISSN 1980-5764

Dement. neuropsychol. vol.3 no.4 São Paulo Oct./Dec. 2009 

Original Articles

Semantic Verbal Fluency test in dementia: Preliminary retrospective analysis

Teste de Fluência Verbal Semântica nas demências: análise preliminar retrospectiva

Marcos Lopes1 

Sonia Maria Dozzi Brucki2 

Viviana Giampaoli3 

Letícia Lessa Mansur4 

1PhD, Department of Linguistics, Faculty of Philosophy, Letters and Humanities of the University of São Paulo, São Paulo SP, Brazil.

2MD, PhD, Behavioral and Cognitive Neurology Unit, Department of Neurology of the University of São Paulo School of Medicine and Cognitive Disorders Reference Center (CEREDIC), Hospital das Clínicas of the University of São Paulo School of Medicine, and Hospital Santa Marcelina, São Paulo SP, Brazil.

3PhD. Department of Statistics - Mathematics and Statistics Institute of University of São Paulo, São Paulo SP, Brazil.

4PhD. Department of Physiotherapy, Speech-Pathology and Occupational Therapy of Medicine School of University of São Paulo, São Paulo SP, Brazil.


The Semantic Verbal Fluency (SVF) test entails the generation of words from a given category within a pre-set time of 60 seconds.


To verify whether socio-demographic and clinical data of individuals with dementia correlate with the performance on the SVF test and to ascertain whether differences among the criteria of number of answers, clusters and data spread over the intervals, predict clinical results.


This was a retrospective study of 49 charts of demented patients classified according to the Clinical Dementia Rating (CDR) scale. We correlated education, age and gender, as well as CDR and Mini-Mental State Exam (MMSE) scores with the number of answers, clustering and switching distributed over four 15-second intervals on the SVF test.


The correlation between number of answers and quartiles was weak (r=0.407, p=0.004; r=0.484, p<0.001) but correlation between the number of clusters and responses was strong (r=0.883, p<0.001). The number of items on the SVF was statistically significant with MMSE score (p=0.01) and there was a tendency for significance on the CDR (p=0.06). The results indicated little activity regarding what we propose to call cluster recalling in the two groups.


The SVF test, using number of items generated, was found to be more effective than classic screening tests in terms of speed and ease of application in patients with CDR 2 and 3.

Key words: verbal fluency; evaluation; cognition; dementia.


A Fluência Verbal Semântica (FVS) requer a geração de palavras de determinada categoria, num tempo pré-fixado de 60 segundos.


Verificar se os dados sociodemográficos e clínicos de indivíduos com demências se correlacionam com a FVS; apontar possíveis diferenças entre critérios de número de respostas, agrupamentos e dados distribuídos nos intervalos predizem resultados clínicos.


Este é um estudo retrospectivo de 49 prontuários de pacientes com demência, classificados de acordo com a escala de estadiamento de demência (Clinical Dementia Rating-CDR). Foram correlacionados os dados de educação, idade e gênero e CDR e Mini-Exame do Estado Mental (MEEM) ao número de respostas, agrupamentos e mudanças de critério (switchings) gerados, em quatro intervalos de 15 segundos.


As correlações entre número de respostas, quartis e entre número de respostas e de quartis foram baixas (r=0.407, p=0.004; r=0.484, p<0.001); porém, a correlação foi alta entre número de agrupamentos e de respostas (r=0.883, p<0.001). O número de itens gerados na SVF foi estatisticamente significante com o MMSE (p=0.01) e houve tendência à significância no CDR (p=0.06). Os resultados indicaram pouca atividade daquilo que chamamos de cluster recalling nos dois grupos.


A FVS com o critério de itens gerados pode ser considerado instrumento clínico vantajoso em relação às varreduras clássicas, em pacientes com CDR 2 e 3, pela rapidez e facilidade de aplicação.

Palavras-chave: fluência verbal; avaliação; cognição; demência.

Texto completo disponível apenas em PDF.

Full text available only in PDF format.


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Received: August 19, 2009; Accepted: September 21, 2009

Marcos Lopes - Av. Prof. Luciano Gualberto 403 - 05508-900 São Paulo SP - Brazil. E-mail:

Disclosure: The authors report no conflicts of interest.

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