College of Psychology: Faculty Articles

Title

Verbal Fluency in Bilingual Spanish/English Alzheimer’s Disease Patients

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2007

Keywords

Alzheimer’s Disease, Spanish, Verbal Fluency, Language, Bilingualism, Dementia

Publication Title

American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias

ISSN

1533-3175

Volume

22

Issue/No.

3

Abstract

Studies have demonstrated that in verbal fluency tests, monolinguals with Alzheimer's disease (AD) show greater difficulties retrieving words based on semantic rather than phonemic rules. The present study aimed to determine whether this difficulty was reproduced in both languages of Spanish/English bilinguals with mild to moderate AD whose primary language was Spanish. Performance on semantic and phonemic verbal fluency of 11 bilingual AD patients was compared to the performance of 11 cognitively normal, elderly bilingual individuals matched for gender, age, level of education, and degree of bilingualism. Cognitively normal subjects retrieved significantly more items under the semantic condition compared to the phonemic, whereas the performance of AD patients was similar under both conditions, suggesting greater decline in semantic verbal fluency tests. This pattern was produced in both languages, implying a related semantic decline in both languages. Results from this study should be considered preliminary because of the small sample size.

DOI

10.1177/1533317507301792