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Reduced verbal fluency for proper names in nondemented patients with Parkinson's disease: a quantitative and qualitative analysis

, : Reduced verbal fluency for proper names in nondemented patients with Parkinson's disease: a quantitative and qualitative analysis. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology 33(2): 226-233

There has been an increasing interest within neuropsychology in comparing verbal fluency for different grammatical classes (e.g., verb generation vs. noun generation) in neurological populations, including Parkinson's disease (PD). However, to our knowledge, few studies have compared verbal fluency for common nouns and proper names in PD. Common nouns and proper names differ in terms of their semantic characteristics, as categories of common nouns are organized hierarchically based on semantics, while categories of proper nouns lack a well-defined semantic organization. In addition, there is accumulating evidence that the retrieval of these distinct grammatical classes are subserved by somewhat distinct neural systems. Given that verbal fluency deficits are among the first impairments to emerge in PD, and that such deficits are predictors of future cognitive decline, it is important to examine all aspects of verbal fluency in this population. For the current study, we compared the performance of a group of 32 nondemented PD patients with 32 healthy participants (HP) on verbal fluency tasks for common nouns (animals) and proper names (boys' first names). A significant interaction between verbal fluency task and diagnostic status emerged, as the PD group performed significantly worse on only the proper name fluency task. This finding may reflect the absence of well-defined semantic organization that structures the verbal search for first names, thus placing a greater onus on strategic or "executive" verbal retrieval processes.


PMID: 20936559

DOI: 10.1080/13803395.2010.507185

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