Decreased recall of primacy words predicts cognitive decline

Davide Bruno, Philip T. Reiss, Eva Petkova, John J. Sidtis, Nunzio Pomara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


One of the cognitive changes associated with Alzheimer's disease is a diminution of the primacy effect, i.e., the tendency toward better recall of items studied early on a list compared with the rest.We examined whether learning and recall of primacy words predicted subsequent cognitive decline in 204 elderly subjects who were non-demented and cognitively intact when first examined. Our results show that poorer primacy performance in the Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test delayed recall trials, but not in immediate recall trials, is an effective predictor of subsequent decline in general cognitive function. This pattern of performance can be interpreted as evidence that failure to consolidate primacy items is a marker of cognitive decline.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-103
Number of pages9
JournalArchives of Clinical Neuropsychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Cognitive decline
  • Consolidation
  • Memory
  • Primacy
  • Serial position

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology


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