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J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 1998 Nov;4(6):539-46.

Clustering and switching strategies in verbal fluency tasks: comparison between schizophrenics and healthy adults.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Nice Sophia, Antipolis, France.


Verbal fluency tasks are frequently used in clinical neuropsychology. Clustering (the production of words within semantic subcategories) and switching (the ability to shift between clusters) have been described as 2 components underlying fluency performance. We compared the use of clustering and switching in schizophrenic patients and healthy subjects. Seventy-eight schizophrenic subjects (DSM-IV criteria) and 64 control participants matched for age and educational level were recruited. Negative, disorganized, and productive clinical dimensions were evaluated using the SANS and SAPS scales. The number of words generated per semantic-phonemic cluster and the number of switches were evaluated during 2 verbal fluency tasks (phonemic and semantic). In the healthy controls switching and clustering were closely related to the total number of words generated in the verbal fluency tests. The role of the 2 components was partly dependent on the specific task. Switching was prevalent in formal fluency, while both switching and clustering contributed to semantic fluency. In comparison to the healthy controls, the overall group of schizophrenic patients showed a significant impairment of switching in the formal fluency task and of both switching and clustering in the semantic fluency task, and both the negative and disorganized dimensions correlated with verbal fluency performance, the number of swtiches during the phonemic fluency task, and the clustering during semantic fluency task.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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