Skip to main content Accessibility help

Action (verb) fluency: Test–retest reliability, normative standards, and construct validity



Action (verb) fluency is a newly developed verbal fluency task that requires the examinee to rapidly generate as many verbs (i.e., “things that people do”) as possible within 1 min. Existing literature indicates that action fluency may be more sensitive to frontal–basal ganglia loop pathophysiology than traditional noun fluency tasks (e.g., animal fluency), which is consistent with the hypothesized neural dissociation between noun and verb retrieval. In the current study, a series of analyses were undertaken to examine the psychometric properties of action fluency in a sample of 174 younger healthy participants. The first set of analyses describes the development of demographically adjusted normative data for action fluency. Next, a group of hypothesis-driven correlational analyses reveals significant associations between action fluency and putative tests of executive functions, verbal working memory, verbal fluency, and information processing speed, but not between action fluency and tests of learning or constructional praxis. The final set of analyses demonstrates the test–retest stability of the action fluency test and provides standards for determining statistically reliable changes in performance. In sum, this study enhances the potential clinical applicability of action fluency by providing demographically adjusted normative data and demonstrating evidence for its reliability and construct validity. (JINS, 2005, 11, 408–415.)


Corresponding author

Reprint requests to: Steven Paul Woods, Psy.D., HIV Neurobehavioral Research Center, Department of Psychiatry (0603-H), University of California, San Diego, 150 W. Washington St., 2nd floor, San Diego, CA 92103. E-mail:


Hide All


Alexander, M.P. & Stuss, D.T. (2000). Disorders of frontal lobe functioning. Seminars in Neurology, 20, 427437.
Basso, M.R., Bornstein, R.A., & Lang, J.M. (1999). Practice effects on commonly used measures of executive function across twelve months. Clinical Neuropsychologist, 13, 283292.
Benedict, R.H.B. (1997). Brief Visuospatial Memory Test–Revised. Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources, Inc.
Benton, A.L., Hamsher, K., & Sivan, A.B. (1994). Multilingual Aphasia Examination. Iowa City, IA: AJA Associates.
Brandt, J. & Benedict, R.H.B. (2001). Hopkins Verbal Learning Test–Revised. Professional manual. Lutz, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources, Inc.
Buckner, R.L., Raichle, M.E., & Petersen, S.E. (1995). Dissociation of human prefrontal cortical areas across different speech production tasks and gender groups. Journal of Neurophysiology, 74, 21632173.
Butters, N., Wolfe, J., Granholm, E., & Martone, M. (1986). An assessment of verbal recall, recognition, and fluency abilities in patients with Huntington's disease. Cortex, 22, 1132.
Cappa, S.F., Sandrini, M., Rossini, P.M., Sosta, K., & Miniussi, C. (2002). The role of the left frontal lobe in action naming: rTMS evidence. Neurology, 59, 720723.
Chelune, G.J., Naugle, R.I., Lüders, H., Sedlack, J., & Awad, I.A. (1993). Individual change after epilepsy surgery: Practice effects and base-rate information. Neuropsychology, 7, 4152.
Damasio, A.R. & Tranel, D. (1993). Nouns and verbs are retrieved with differently distributed neural systems. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 90, 49574960.
Diehr, M.C., Heaton, R.K., Miller, W., & Grant, I. (1998). The Paced Auditory Serial Addition Task (PASAT): Norms for age, education, and ethnicity. Assessment, 5, 375387.
Fastenau, P.S. & Adams, K.M. (1996). Heaton, Grant, and Matthews' comprehensive norms: An overzealous attempt. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, 18, 444448.
Fastenau, P.S. (1998). Validity of regression-based norms: An empirical test of the comprehensive norms with older adults. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, 20, 906916.
Gladsjo, J.A., Schuman, C.C., Evans, J.D., Peavy, G.M., Miller, S.W., & Heaton, R.K. (1999). Norms for letter and category fluency: Demographic corrections for age, education, and ethnicity. Assessment, 6, 147178.
Golden, C.J. (1978). Stroop Color and Word Test. Chicago: Stoelting.
Heaton, R.K., Miller, S.W., Taylor, M.J., & Grant, I. (2004). Revised Comprehensive norms for an expanded Halstead-Reitan Battery: Demographically adjusted neuropsychological norms for African American and Caucasian adults. Lutz, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources, Inc.
Kemmerer, D. & Tranel, D. (2000). Verb retrieval in brain-damaged subjects: 1. Analysis of stimulus, lexical, and conceptual factors. Brain and Language, 73, 347392.
Kløve, H. (1963). Clinical neuropsychology. In F.M. Forster (Ed.), The medical clinics of North America. New York: Saunders.
Kongs, S.K., Thompson, L.L., Iverson, G.L., & Heaton, R.K. (2000). Wisconsin Card Sorting Test–64 card computerized version. Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.
Perani, D., Cappa., S.F., Schnur, T., Tettamanti, M., Collina., S., Rosa., M.M., & Fazio, F. (1999). The neural correlates of verb and noun processing: A PET study. Brain, 122, 23372344.
Piatt, A.L., Fields, J.A., Paolo, A.M., & Tröster A.I. (1999a). Action (verb naming) fluency as an executive function measure: Convergent and divergent evidence of validity. Neuropsychologia, 37, 14991503.
Piatt, A.L., Fields, J.A., Paolo, A.M., Koller, W.C., & Tröster, A.I. (1999b). Lexical, semantic, and action verbal fluency in Parkinson's disease with and without dementia. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, 21, 435443.
Piatt, A.L., Fields, J.A., Paolo, A.M., & Tröster A.I. (2004). Action verbal fluency normative data for the elderly. Brain and Language, 89, 580583.
Pihlajamaki, M., Tanila, H., Hanninen, T., Kononen, M., Laakso, M., Partanen, K., Soininen, H., & Aronen, H.J. (2000). Verbal fluency activates the left medial temporal lobe: A functional magnetic resonance imaging study. Annals of Neurology, 47, 470476.
Psychological Corporation. (1997). Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale–Third edition. San Antonio, TX: Author.
Reitan, R.M. & Wolfson, D. (1985). The Halstead-Reitan Neuropsychological Test Battery: Theory and clinical interpretation. Tucson, AZ: Neuropsychology Press.
Richter, S., Kaiser, O., Hein-Kropp, C., Dimitrova, A., Gizewski, E., Beck, A., Aurich, V., Ziegler, W., & Timmann, D. (2004). Preserved verb generation in patients with cerebellar atrophy. Neuropsychologia, 42, 12351246.
Royston, P. & Altman, D.G. (1994). Regression using fractional polynomials of continuous covariates: Parsimonious parametric modeling. Applied Statistics, 43, 429467.
Sach, M., Seitz, R.J., & Indefrey, P. (2004). Unified inflectional processing of regular and irregular verbs: A PET study. Neuroreport, 15, 533537.
Suhr, J.A. & Jones, R.D. (1998). Letter and semantic fluency in Alzheimer's, Huntington's, and Parkinson's dementias. Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology, 13, 447454.
Tranel, D., Adolphs, R., Damasio, H., & Damasio, A.R. (2001). A neural basis for the retrieval of words for actions. Cognitive Neuropsychology, 18, 655670.
Tranel, D., Kemmerer, D., Adolphs, R., Damasio, H., & Damasio, A.R. (2003). Neural correlates of conceptual knowledge for actions. Cognitive Neuropsychology, 20, 409432.
Tranel, D., Martin, C., Damasio, H., Grabowski, T., & Hichwa, R. (2005). Effects of noun–verb homonymy on the neural correlates of naming concrete entities and actions. Brain and Language, 92, 288299.
Warburton, E., Wise, R.J., Price, C.J., Weiller, C., Hadar, U., Ramsay, S., & Frackowiak, R.S. (1996). Noun and verb retrieval by normal subjects. Studies with PET. Brain, 119, 159179.
Williamson, D.J.G., Adair, J.C., Raymer, A.M., & Heilman, K.M. (1998). Object and action naming in Alzheimer's disease. Cortex, 34, 601610.
Wilkinson, G.S. (1993). Wide Range Achievement Test administration manual (3rd ed.). Wilmington, DE: Wide Range, Inc.
Woods, S.P., Carey, C.L., Tröster, A.I., Grant, I., & The HNRC Group (2005). Action (verb) generation in HIV–1 infection. Neuropsychologia, 43, 11441151.
Woods, S.P., Conover, E., Rippeth, J.D., Carey, C., Gonzalez, R., Marcotte, T.D., Heaton, R.K., Grant, I., & The HNRC Group (2004). Qualitative aspects of verbal fluency performance in HIV-associated dementia: A deficit in rule-guided lexical–semantic search processes? Neuropsychologia, 42, 801809.
Woods, S.P., Scott, J.C., Conover, E., Grant, I., Heaton, R.K., & The HNRC Group. (2005). Test–retest reliability of component process variables within the Hopkins Verbal Learning Test–Revised. Assessment, 12, 96100.


Action (verb) fluency: Test–retest reliability, normative standards, and construct validity



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed