Letter and category fluency in patients with frontal lobe lesions

Neuropsychology. 1998 Apr;12(2):259-67. doi: 10.1037//0894-4105.12.2.259.


This study examines the hypothesis that patients with frontal lobe lesions are impaired on tests of letter but not category fluency. This hypothesis was proposed by Moscovitch (1994), based on a series of cognitive studies with young, normal participants. A group of patients with lateral prefrontal lesions and age-matched controls were tested on 2 tests of verbal fluency, the FAS task and a category fluency task that used semantic categories as cues (e.g., animals). Patients with frontal lobe lesions generated fewer items than controls on both letter and category fluency. This effect did not interact with the type of fluency test, suggesting that the frontal lobes are more generally involved in verbal fluency. Moreover, this pattern of findings, along with previous results of impaired free recall and remote retrieval in this patient group, suggests that patients with frontal lobe lesions do not efficiently organize and develop retrieval strategies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Brain Damage, Chronic / pathology
  • Brain Damage, Chronic / physiopathology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Concept Formation / physiology
  • Cues*
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / pathology
  • Frontal Lobe / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Recall / physiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Semantics
  • Verbal Behavior / physiology*
  • Volition / physiology