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Fluency;Memory;Neuropsychology;Psycholinguistics;Semantics;Verbal Learning


Lori Buchanan



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Neuropsychological assessment often depends on language-based measures of cognitive functioning and proper diagnosis of certain disorders relies on patterns of impairment in language and memory on these measures. The current project was motivated by the relative lack of literature integrating psycholinguistic experimental findings and clinical neuropsychological research. It has been well documented that word-level characteristics impact language processing and memory. Therefore, it is critical that neuropsychologists begin to understand how the measures currently in use can be confounded by the underlying lexical and semantic characteristics of the stimuli and how, if used properly, those characteristics could aid in diagnostic specificity. Results from Studies 1 and 2 demonstrated that 1) age of acquisition, emotional valence, semantic neighborhood density, and imageability predicted better recall of items from neuropsychological tests in healthy participants, and 2) only one of the ten test lists examined adequately controlled for these influential variables. Results from Study 3 demonstrated several ways in which common semantic fluency categories differ from each other, including in overall category size, number of correct responses and set-loss errors produced, and across several lexical and semantic variables. Study 4 presented and evaluated four potential remedial options for a category switching task that move closer toward structure equality. Overall, the results of this dissertation show that the neuropsychological tests examined herein are not adequately constructed from a psycholinguistic perspective and that clinicians could be missing clinically relevant data by ignoring psycholinguistic contributions to performance.