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J Alzheimers Dis. 2018;62(2):611-619. doi: 10.3233/JAD-170826.

The Role of Verb Fluency in the Detection of Early Cognitive Impairment in Alzheimer's Disease.

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Memory Clinic and Research Center of Fundació ACE, Institut Català de Neurociències Aplicades, Barcelona, Spain.
Mental Health Research Group, IMIM (Hospital del Mar Research Institute), CIBERSAM (Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Salud Mental), Barcelona, Spain.
Department of Psychiatry, Hospital Universitari Vall d'Hebron, CIBERSAM, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.
Cognitive Neurology and Aphasia Unit and Cathedra ARPA of Aphasia, Centro de Investigaciones Médico-Sanitarias (CIMES) and Instituto de Investigación Biomédica de Málaga (IBIMA), University of Malaga, Malaga, Spain.
Department of Psychology and Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK.



Verb fluency (VF) is the less commonly used fluency test, despite several studies suggesting its potential as a neuropsychological assessment tool.


To investigate the presence of VF deficits in mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and mild Alzheimer's disease (AD) dementia; to assess the usefulness of VF in the detection of cognitively healthy (CH) people who will convert to MCI, and from MCI to dementia; and to establish the VF cut-offs useful in the cognitive assessment of Spanish population.


568 CH, 885 MCI, and 367 mild AD dementia individuals were administered the VF test and a complete neuropsychological battery. Longitudinal analyses were performed in 231 CH and 667 MCI subjects to search for VF predictors of diagnosis conversion.


A worsening on VF performance from CH, MCI to AD dementia groups was found. Lower performances on VF were significantly related to conversion from CH to MCI/MCI to dementia. When the effect of time to conversion was analyzed, a significant effect of VF was found on the faster conversion from CH to MCI, but not from MCI to dementia. Moreover, VF cut-off scores and sensitivity/specificity values were calculated for 6 conditions (3 age ranges by 2 educational levels).


The VF test may be a useful tool for the differential diagnosis of cognitive failure in the elderly. Since VF deficits seem to take place in early stages of the disease, it is a suitable neuropsychological tool for the detection not only of CH people who will convert to MCI, but also from MCI to dementia.


Alzheimer’s disease; cognitively healthy; mild cognitive impairment; verb fluency; verbal fluency

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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