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Appl Neuropsychol. 2000;7(1):17-24.

Verbal fluency and repetition skills in healthy older Spanish-English bilinguals.

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  • 1College of Liberal Arts, Florida Atlantic University, Davie 33314, USA.


The influence of bilingualism on cognitive test performance in older adults has received limited attention in the neuropsychology literature. The aim of this study was to examine the impact of bilingualism on verbal fluency and repetition tests in older Hispanic bilinguals. Eighty-two right-handed participants (28 men and 54 women) with a mean age of 61.76 years (SD = 9.30; range = 50-84) and a mean educational level of 14.8 years (SD = 3.6; range 2-23) were selected. Forty-five of the participants were English monolinguals, 18 were Spanish monolinguals, and 19 were Spanish-English bilinguals. Verbal fluency was tested by electing a verbal description of a picture and by asking participants to generate words within phonemic and semantic categories. Repetition was tested using a sentence-repetition test. The bilinguals' test scores were compared to English monolinguals' and Spanish monolinguals' test scores. Results demonstrated equal performance of bilingual and monolingual participants in all tests except that of semantic verbal fluency. Bilinguals who learned English before age 12 performed significantly better on the English repetition test and produced a higher number of words in the description of a picture than the bilinguals who learned English after age 12. Variables such as task demands, language interference, linguistic mode, and level of bilingualism are addressed in the Discussion section.

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