Three-word recall in normal aging

J Clin Exp Neuropsychol. 2004 Nov;26(8):1128-33. doi: 10.1080/13803390490515540.


Three-word recall tasks are widely used as brief measures of verbal memory function, although interpretation of performance is complicated by variations in test instructions and procedures. The purpose of this study was to examine 3-word recall performance in samples of healthy subjects aged 5275 (M age = 70) and age 7692 (M age = 82) compared to patients with Alzheimer's Disease (AD) when explicit prompts to remember the words were given. Those in the younger aging group remembered significantly more words than those in the older sample after a brief delay (M= 2.8 and 2.3, respectively). However, the majority of control subjects recalled 2 or 3 words after the delay, with only 3% of the 5075 year old group and 17% of the 76+ year old group recalling 0 or 1 word on delayed recall. This is in stark contrast to the 87% of individuals with AD who recalled 0 or 1 word. Even though 3-word recall performance decreases with age, good recall (2 or 3 words) can be expected in most cases of normal aging.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged / psychology*
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology
  • Alzheimer Disease / psychology
  • Brain / pathology
  • Education
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Recall / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Verbal Learning / physiology*