Commonalities and differences in the working memory components underlying letter and category fluency tasks: a dual-task investigation

Neuropsychology. 2002 Jul;16(3):309-21. doi: 10.1037//0894-4105.16.3.309.


This study used a dual-task interference paradigm to test the hypothesis that different subcomponents of working memory differentially contribute to performance on letter fluency and category fluency tasks. College students (N = 96) performed each type of verbal fluency task in isolation and concurrently with I of 3 secondary tasks. The secondary tasks were chosen for their putative involvement in different working memory subcomponents. Two subsystems of working memory, the phonological loop and the visuospatial sketchpad, were identified as important contributors to fluency performance, especially to performance on letter fluency and category fluency tasks, respectively. Moreover, the results also suggest that the executive function, mental set shifting, may be deployed to perform both letter fluency and category fluency tasks.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mathematics
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Phonetics
  • Random Allocation
  • Space Perception / physiology
  • Verbal Behavior*
  • Visual Fields / physiology
  • Visual Perception / physiology