List-Learning Patterns in Different Languages

Estimating pre-morbid ability
January 13, 2017
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List-Learning Patterns in Different Languages

List-Learning tests such as the Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test (RAVLT) or the List Memory of the NEPSY II test, are popular tests of verbal learning (Lezak, 2012; Strauss, et al., 2006).

The tests typically consist of a list of 15 words.  The words are read to a patient at the pace of one word per second and after the full list of words has been read to the patient, the patient is asked to recall all the words that they can. This is Trial I of the test.  After Trial I, the list of words is read to the patient again, and again the patient is asked to recall all the words he/she can, including the words recalled before.  This is Trial II of the test.  This same process is repeated for Trials III, IV and V.

After Trial V, a second list of words is read to the patient and the patient is required to recall the words from that list (List B).  The person is then asked to recall all the words from the first list (Trial VI).

After a half-hour delay, the person is again asked to recall all the words that from the first list.  Once the person can no longer recall any words, the person is given a recognition form with the 15 words from the first list, mixed with words from the second list and 30 foils with similar semantic and phonemic qualities.  The patient is instructed to indicate which words were on the first list.

There are certain patterns of learning that is expected with a normal, healthy individual.  For example, with such a list-learning test, it is expected that the person’s recall of the first list increases with each of the Trials I-V.  It is also expected that the person’s recall of the first list in Trial I will be similar to the recall of the second list when that one has been read to them, as both measure immediate memory.  It is also expected that the recall of the first list on Trial V will be similar to the recall of that list on Trial VI and again with the delayed recall trial.

The RAVLT has been translated into Xhosa, Zulu and Afrikaans in South Africa.  The List Memory subtest of the NEPSY II has been translated into Xhosa, Zulu, Afrikaans, Sepedi, Setswana and Sesotho.  A South African List Learning Test (Blumenau, 2011), where English words that are more familiar to the South African public was used, has also been devised.

Suggested research:

  • To compare the patterns of learning on list-learning tests translated into different languages.

Variation of the theme:

  • Different ages of children can be tested to try to establish a pattern of learning as memory and executive functions mature.

References:

Blumenau, J. & Broom, Y.  (2011) “Performance of South African adolescents on two versions of the Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test”, South African Journal of Psychology, Volume 41 (2)

Lezak, M.D., Howieson, D.B., Bigler, E.D., & Tranel, D. (2012). “Neuropsychological Assessment”, 5th ed. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Strauss, E., Sherman, E.M.S, & Spreen, O. (2006). “A Compendium of Neuropsychological Tests: Administration, Norms and Commentary”, 3rd Ed. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

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