California Verbal Learning Test (CVLT) is a neuropsychological
test which can be used to assess an individual's verbal
The tester reads aloud a list, called "Monday's
shopping list". The list contains sixteen common words, each
of which belongs to one of four categories: thus, there are
four fruits, four herbs and spices, etc. The subject is then
asked to recall as many of these items as possible.
There are several components to this test.
First, the tester records how many items the subject remembers
over several repeated trials. Additionally, the tester records
whether or not the subject is making use of category information.
For instance, suppose the four fruit items are Apples, Bananas,
Oranges, Cherries, and suppose the subject can only remember
Apples, Bananas and Oranges. If the subject cannot remember
the fourth item, but guesses that it is another fruit (e.g.,
Grapes), the tester concludes that the subject understood
the category information in the list. If the subject guesses
an unrelated word (e.g., Chicken), the tester concludes that
the subject was not able to understand the category information
in the list.
Next, the tester may give a second list ("Tuesday's shopping
list"), and see if the subject is able to keep the items from
each list separate, or if the two lists become confused.
Finally, there is a short delay of 20 minutes,
during which the subject is given other tasks to perform,
and then the tester again asks the subject to recall Monday's
Because it contains so many different components,
the CVLT is fairly popular as a neuropsychological test of
many aspects of verbal learning and memory. Overall, women
tend to perform better than men on the CVLT, especially in
their ability to make use of category information. Patients
with different kinds of brain damage or disorder also show
reliable patterns of performance. For example, patients with
tend to be unable to make use of category information (and
might recall: Apples, Bananas, Oranges, Chicken) while patients
disease tend to make repetition errors (for example: Apples,
Bananas, Oranges, Bananas).
by Catherine E. Myers. Copyright © 2006 Memory Loss and the Brain