Preliminary Normative Data of Persian Phonemic and Semantic Verbal Fluency Test

  • Ensiyeh Ghasemian-Shirvan Translational Neuroscience Program, Institute for Cognitive Science Studies, Tehran, Iran
  • Saba Molavi Shirazi Translational Neuroscience Program, Institute for Cognitive Science Studies, Tehran, Iran
  • Masoume Aminikhoo Department of Psychology, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran
  • Mostafa Zarean Department of Psychology, Allameh Tabataba'i University, Tehran, Iran
  • Hamed Ekhtiari Neurocognitive Laboratory, Iranian National Center for Addiction Studies, Tehran University of Medical Sciences (TUMS), Tehran, Iran.
Keywords: Farsi, Neuropsychological Assessment, Normative Data, Persian, Verbal Fluency


Objective: Verbal fluency tests (VFTs) are widely used in clinical practice and research to assess executive functions and are highly sensitive to frontal lobe lesions. However, using VFTs in different cultures and languages needs further considerations. The aim of this study was to provide a Persian (Farsi) version of verbal fluency with preliminary normative data. Method: In the first phase, 50 healthy native Persian-speaking individuals completed 1-minute VFT for all 32 letters in Persian to find letters with highest frequency. In the second phase, 100 healthy participants (50 females) were recruited into 5 age groups that were matched by gender and education. Participants were instructed to do 1-minute VFT for the 3 selected letters (phonemic VFT) and 3 categories (animal, supermarket, and fruit) (semantic VFT). For data analysis, one-way ANOVA was performed. Results: In the first phase, 3 letters (Pe standing for /P/, Meem for /M/ and Kaaf for /K/) had the highest frequency in word production (12 in average) and had been chosen for Persian phonemic VFT. Participants were assessed with the 3 selected letters (/P/: 12.28±3.607, /M/: 12.54±3.907, and /K/: 12.48±3.708) and 3 semantic categories (animal: 21.67±5.119, supermarket: 21.19±4.907, and fruit: 19.58±4.439) with 1-minute time limitation for each test. The results showed that education was significantly (p<0.01) associated with the performance in the phonemic but not semantic scores, while age was not correlated with either of the tests. No significant effect of gender was observed. Conclusion: Based on our results, we recommend Persian letters Pe, Meem, and Kaff that have the highest frequency in word production among others to be used for neuropsychological assessments and future studies in the Persian language. This is the same logic behind selecting F, A, and S in the English version. Although the norms obtained in this study are preliminary, these results can be useful in clinical evaluation with considerations about age and educational levels. Moreover, the findings of this study can be used as an initial step for more comprehensive normative studies.  


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Assefi Shirazi T. [Penn Language Center] (

How to Cite
Ghasemian-Shirvan E, Molavi Shirazi S, Aminikhoo M, Zarean M, Ekhtiari H. Preliminary Normative Data of Persian Phonemic and Semantic Verbal Fluency Test. Iran J Psychiatry. 13(4):288-295.
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