Working memory and perseveration in verbal fluency

Neuropsychology. 2004 Jan;18(1):69-77. doi: 10.1037/0894-4105.18.1.69.


Letter and semantic fluency tasks are often used in neuropsychological assessment and are sensitive to many conditions. Performance is assessed by correct responses and errors, including perseverations. Healthy young adults performed letter and semantic fluency tasks. One group performed these tasks in the conventional manner; 2 other groups performed them while maintaining memory loads. The memory loads consisted either of words from the same category as the fluency task or of words from a different category. The results showed little effect of memory loads on correct responses but significant effects of memory load on perseveration rates: Same-category loads resulted in higher rates, especially in letter fluency. The results are discussed in terms of frontal lobe function in verbal fluency.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Humans
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Random Allocation
  • Semantics
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Verbal Behavior / physiology*
  • Verbal Learning / physiology*
  • Vocabulary