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Dementia & Neuropsychologia

Print version ISSN 1980-5764

Dement. neuropsychol. vol.5 no.2 São Paulo Apr./June 2011 

Original Articles

Verbal fluency: Effect of time on item generation

Fluência verbal: efeito do tempo na geração de itens

Mayra Jacuviske Venegas 1  

Leticia Lessa Mansur 1  

1,Department of Physiotherapy, Speech Pathology and Occupational Therapy of Faculty of Medicine of the University of São Paulo, São Paulo SP, Brazil.


The distribution of item generation/time in the performance of elderly on verbal fluency (VF) remains unknown.


To analyze the number of items, their distribution and impact of the first quartile on the final test result.


31 individuals performed the tests (average age=74 years; schooling=8.16 years).


The number of items produced in the first quartile differed from the other quartiles for both semantic and phonologic VF where 40% of items were produced in the first quartile. No effect of age was found and schooling influenced performance on the first and second quartiles of semantic VF and on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd quartiles of phonemic VF.


This study contributes with the finding that asymptotic levels are attained prior to the 30 seconds observed in other studies, being reached at the 15-second mark. Furthermore, schooling was found to be associated to the number of items produced in both the first and 2nd quartiles for semantic VF, and in 1st, 2nd and 3rd quartiles for phonemic fluency.


The schooling effect was noted both in semantic and executive aspects of VF. The brief form of the VF test may represent a promising tool for clinical evaluation.

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


Desconhece-se a distribuição da geração de itens/tempo, no desempenho de idosos na fluência verbal (FV).


Analisar número de itens produzidos, sua distribuição e o impacto do primeiro quartil no resultado final da prova.


31 indivíduos (média de idade=74 anos; escolaridade média=8.16) realizaram testes.


O número de itens produzidos no primeiro quartil diferiu dos demais nas fluências semântica e fonológica; 40% dos itens foi produzido no primeiro quartil. Não houve efeito de idade e a escolaridade influenciou o primeiro e segundo quartis da fluência semântica e os três primeiros quartis da fluência fonêmica.


O estudo mostra que a curva assintótica de desempenho nos quartis da FV pode ser notada antes dos 30 segundos observados em prévios estudos, já nos 15 segundos iniciais. Adicionalmente, nosso estudo mostra que o efeito de escolaridade está associado ao desempenho nos dois primeiros quartis na fluência semântica e aos três primeiros quartis na fluência fonêmica.


O efeito de escolaridade foi notado em aspectos semânticos e executivos da FV. A forma abreviada da FV é interessante proposta para a avaliação clínica.

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

Texto completo disponível apenas em PDF.

Full text available only in PDF format.


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Received: January 02, 2011; Accepted: March 05, 2011

Leticia Lessa Mansur - Rua Cipotânea, 51 - 05360-000 São Paulo SP - Brazil. E-mail:

Disclosure: The authors reports no conflicts of interest.

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