Intrusion errors during verbal fluency task in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Manuel Perez, Imanol Amayra, Esther Lazaro, Maitane García, Oscar Martínez, Patricia Caballero, Sarah Berrocoso, Juan Francisco López-Paz, Mohammad Al-Rashaida, Alicia Aurora Rodríguez, Paula Luna, Luis Varona

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Background Numerous studies have noted the presence of a dysexecutive component of the ALS-FTD. The most widely replicated result refers to the significantly reduced verbal fluency of ALS patients when compared to healthy people. As ALS patients have motor alterations that interfere with production, qualitative studies have the advantage of being independent of the degree of motor disability and revealing patients' cognitive state. This study examined the production differences between 42 ALS patients who presented with different degrees of dementia and motor impairment and 42 healthy people. Production processes were studied by extending the administration time of a letter fluency task to 2 minutes for the phonemic verbal fluency (PVF) and semantic verbal fluency (SVF) categories. This ensured that the qualitative aspects of verbal fluency were addressed, paying special attention to the new perseverations and intrusions, as well as any clinical correlates that may exist. Results The ALS patients produced a significantly lower number of responses in PVF (p = .017) and SVF (p = .008). The rest of the indicators for frontal lobe alteration also suggested the existence of a dysfunction. The most remarkable results were the number of intrusions on the PVF task, which was much higher in the ALS group (p = .002). However, the number of perseverations did not differ significantly. Conclusions This study highlights the value of intrusions in addressing cognitive deterioration in ALS patients. This deterioration seems to be independent of the degree of motor impairment and of behavioural alterations. Therefore, the value of the intromissions on the verbal fluency task was highlighted as an indicator of a new cognitive alteration, which can be easily evaluated, even retrospectively.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0233349
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General


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