Patterns of word-list generation in mild cognitive impairment and alzheimer's disease

Jason Brandt, Kevin J. Manning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Patients with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) have been described as exhibiting greater impairment on tests of category fluency than letter fluency. This has been offered as evidence that this condition represents pre-clinical Alzheimer's disease (AD). We hypothesized that this pattern of differential impairment is dependent on the specific semantic categories and initial letters selected, and is not specific to AD and aMCI. A total of 40 cognitively normal older adults, 74 MCI patients25 amnestic single domain (aMCI), 27 amnestic multiple domain, and 22 non-amnesticand 29 AD patients were tested with multiple forms of semantic-category and initial-letter fluency tasks. The pattern of deficits within and across groups was highly dependent on the specific categories and letters chosen. Overall, aMCI patients did not demonstrate greater impairment in category than letter fluency. In fact, the level and pattern of their performance resembled that of cognitively normal older adults much more than AD patients. MCI patients with deficits in multiple cognitive domains performed most like AD patients. These findings indicate that verbal fluency performance is highly influenced by the specific tasks used, and impairment on semantic fluency is not characteristic of pure amnestic MCI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)870-879
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Neuropsychologist
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 2009


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Mild cognitive impairment
  • Verbal fluency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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