Age-related differences in performance of phonemic verbal fluency measured by Controlled Oral Word Association Task (COWAT): a meta-analytic study

Dev Neuropsychol. 2006;30(2):697-717. doi: 10.1207/s15326942dn3002_3.


Meta-analytical procedures were used to examine the research findings on age-related changes in phonemic verbal fluency measured by the Controlled Oral Word Association Task (COWAT). Data from 26 studies comparing adults from different age ranges were analyzed. An effect of aging was found in almost all age comparisons especially after 40 years of age. Results revealed a decline of this verbal ability after 60 years, which accelerates through the late 80s. Gender may influence COWAT performance after the sixth decade, favoring women over men. These results may be important in clinical situations where COWAT is used to assert pathological changes.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests / statistics & numerical data
  • Paired-Associate Learning / physiology*
  • Phonetics*
  • Sex Factors
  • Verbal Behavior / physiology*
  • Word Association Tests*