The effects of focal anterior and posterior brain lesions on verbal fluency

J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 1998 May;4(3):265-78.


Seventy-four patients with focal brain lesions were compared to a neurologically normal control group on tasks of letter-based and category-based list generation. When patients were divided only by right frontal, left frontal, or nonfrontal lesion sites, the pattern of fluency impairments confirmed prior claims. When more precise lesion sites within the frontal lobes were compared between groups classified based on their fluency performance, much more specific brain-behavior relations were uncovered. Damage to the right dorsolateral cortical or connecting striatal regions, the right posterior area, or the medial inferior frontal lobe of either hemisphere did not significantly affect letter-based fluency performance. Superior medial frontal damage, right or left, resulted in moderate impairment. Patients with left dorsolateral and/or striatal lesions were most impaired. Left parietal damage led to performance relatively equivalent to the superior medial and left dorsolateral groups. The same lesion sites produced impairments in category based fluency, but so did lesions of right dorsolateral and inferior medial regions. Task analysis and correlations with other measures revealed that different cognitive processes related to different brain regions underlie performance on verbal fluency tests.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Injuries / pathology
  • Brain Injuries / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Processes / physiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Reading
  • Verbal Behavior / physiology*