Reduced semantic fluency as an additional screening tool for subjects with questionable dementia.Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord. 2006; 22(2):159-64.DG
Subjective memory complaints in subjects with mild cognitive impairment may represent a genuine decline in episodic memory. This paper evaluates the neuropsychological correlates of the semantic fluency test in subjects with questionable dementia (QD).
A total of 331 Chinese subjects (118 normal controls, NC, 150 with QD and 63 with mild Alzheimer's disease, AD) were assessed with the Category Verbal Fluency Test (CVFT), the AD Assessment Scale-cognitive subscale (ADAS-Cog), and digit and verbal span tests. CVFT performance was evaluated in each Clinical Dementia Rating (CDR) group. The total number of exemplars, the subcategory and the category size generated were evaluated. Neuropsychological correlates of CVFT scores were computed.
Significant differences in CVFT performance were found between the different CDR groups. The subjects with QD had intermediate scores compared to the NC and AD subjects (1-way ANOVA, p < 0.001, post-hoc Bonferroni comparisons). In NC the CVFT scores were significantly associated with ADAS-Cog total, and immediate and delayed recall scores (partial correlations controlled for age and education, p < 0.005). In the QD group the CVFT scores were correlated with ADAS-Cog total, and immediate recall and object naming scores (partial correlation controlled for age and education, p < 0.005). Regression analysis revealed that age and delayed recall were significant predictors of CVFT performance in NCs. In the QD group, age, ADAS-Cog immediate recall and object naming scores predicted the CVFT performance.
The CVFT was impaired in the subjects with QD. Apart from episodic memory, semantic memory deficits also occur early in AD. The different cognitive predictors of CVFT scores in the NC and QD groups suggest that the test is associated with specific psychological functions at different stages of cognitive impairment.