An examination of semantic impairment in amnestic MCI and AD : What can we learn from verbal fluency?
Article [Accepted Manuscript]
Is part ofArchives of clinical neuropsychology ; vol. 35, no. 1, pp. 22-30.
Publisher(s)Oxford University Press
Introduction The Verbal Fluency Test (VF) is commonly used in neuropsychology. Some studies have demonstrated a marked impairment of semantic VF compared to phonemic VF in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Since amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment (aMCI) is associated with increased risk of conversion to incident AD, it is relevant to examine whether a similar impairment is observed in this population. The objective of the present empirical study is to compare VF performance of aMCI patients to those of AD and elderly controls matched one-to-one for age and education. Method Ninety-six participants divided into three equal groups (N = 32: AD, aMCI and Controls) were included in this study. Participants in each group were, on average, 76 years of age and had 13 years of education. A repeated measures ANOVA with the Group (AD, aMCI, NC) as between-subject factor and the Fluency condition (“P” and “animals”) as within-subject factor was performed. T-tests and simple ANOVAs were also conducted to examine the interaction. Results There was a significant interaction between the groups and the verbal fluency condition. In AD, significantly fewer words were produced in both conditions. In contrast, participants with aMCI demonstrated a pattern similar to controls in the phonemic condition, but generated significantly fewer words in the semantic condition. Conclusion These results indicate a semantic memory impairment in aMCI revealed by a simple, commonly-used neuropsychological test. Future studies are needed to investigate if semantic fluency deficits can help predict future conversion to AD.