Let's start by talking about the concept of verbal fluency.

You just purchased this program hoping to train your verbal fluency.

But what exactly is verbal fluency?

Verbal fluency is a cognitive function that facilitates information retrieval from memory.

Successful "retrieval from memory" requires executive control over cognitive processes such as selective attention, selective inhibition, mental set shifting, internal response generation, and self-monitoring.

That's a bunch of words, isn't it?

So let's put it more simply:

Verbal fluency is, basically, the ease with which a person can produce words.

Or, how about this?

The ease with which you can access and then verbalize your mental vocabulary.

In order for a person to produce words, the coordination of multiple brain areas, particularly the frontal and temporal lobes of the left hemisphere of the brain, are required.

Different parts of the brain are responsible for different aspects of verbal fluency. 

For example:

Frontal lobe -> Verbs

Posterior/anterior temporal lobes -> Nouns

Frontal lobe -> Generating words that begin with a particular letter (i.e. "phonemic fluency")

Temporal lobe -> Generating words that fit into a category (i.e. "semantic fluency")

There are many aspects to verbal fluency.  Check this out:

We just talked about phonemic and semantic fluency.

But there also a lot of other aspects of verbal fluency, most of which we will train in this program.

Researchers were able to determine the functions of specific areas of the brain by studying subjects who had impairments in these aspects of verbal fluency and linking them to specific parts of their brains that were damaged or ill.

Verbal fluency has a strong correlation with overall verbal ability and what is called "executive control". 

"Executive control" is a set of functions that regulate one's thoughts and direct behavior toward a general goal.

There are three elements of "executive control":

  • Updating, i.e. monitoring and tracking of working memory representation.
  • Shifting, i.e. flexibly shifting between tasks and mental sets.
  • Inhibition of dominant responses, i.e. avoiding making incorrect responses in the face of the reaction elicited most quickly and easily by a given stimulus.

Updating is a relevant skill when people are naming lists of things. In doing so, they need to keep track of the things they've already named so as to avoid naming things twice or forgetting to name them at all.

Shifting is pretty self-explanatory.  It's shifting from one task to a different task.

Inhibition of dominant responses is a bit confusing, so let me try to clarify what it means.

The "dominant response" is usually an automatic, reflexive response to something.

For example, when someone criticizes you, it is reflexive to deny or defend yourself and become defensive.  Becoming defensive is usually not a very good thing to do.

Instead, what you should do is to avoid becoming defensive and respond with something witty or more creative so as to deflect or defuse the criticism.

So, overcoming this reflexive response to be defensive is an example of what I mean by inhibition of dominant responses.

Therefore, it takes a lot of "executive control" in order to override, or inhibit, the primary, dominant response.

It is said that people who suffer from ADHD have poor executive control.  

I've known quite a few people who suffer from ADHD and it is absolutely true.  

People with ADHD are much more easily triggered and easier to throw off because they react so strongly and automatically to "stimulus".

That phrase "he/she can't help themselves" is absolutely true.  

Their behavior is automatic in response to certain stimuli and it's as if they do not have any "control", i.e. executive control, over their response.  If you meet people with ADHD, you will see how much they can't help themselves.  It's a terrible condition.

Okay, now that you understand what verbal fluency is, let's move on to the next section where you will learn about why verbal fluency is important and why you should want to train it up.


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