Analysis of young children's abilities to cluster and switch during a verbal fluency task

C. Resch, R. Martens, P. Hurks*

*Corresponding author for this work

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To investigate developmental changes that take place in verbal fluency (VF) performance during early childhood, a VF task was administered to 225 healthy, Dutch-speaking children aged between 4.14 and 6.89 years. Three categories of VF outcome measures were included: i.e., word productivity, mean cluster size, and number of switches. Age influenced performance on all VF outcome measures linearly; i.e., older children produced more words, made longer clusters, and switched more. Higher levels of intelligence were associated with increased VF word productivity, but not with measures of switching and clustering. When leaving intelligence out of these analyses, we additionally found an interaction between level of parental education (LPE) and sex on total word productivity, i.e., girls with parents who had lower LPE produced fewer words than the other children. Furthermore, a similar interaction of LPE and sex was found for the number of switches: i.e., girls who had parents with lower LPE made fewer switches than the other children. Findings suggest that even in 4 to 6-year-old children important changes take place over time in VF and in processes underlying successful performance. Attention should be paid to age-extrinsic factors, such as LPE and sex, since these have been found to influence VF performance in young children.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1295-1310
JournalNeuropsychology, Development and Cognition. Section D: The Clinical Neuropsychologist
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014

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