Validity of an Affective Verbal Memory Test in a College Athlete Sample

J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2011 Mar;


Yacovelli, M. R., A. Rabinowitz and P. Arnett.



Objective: Research has demonstrated that verbal memory tests are sensitive to concussion. Concussion may lead to transient changes in affect as well. This study was designed to measure the validity of the Affective Verbal Memory Test (AVLT) as an indicator of both verbal memory and affective state. Participants and Methods: The AVLT was administered to 237 non-injured college athletes at baseline, as part of a neuropsychological test battery. The AVLT is a verbal list-learning task, in which 15 affectively loaded words are presented orally. Immediate and delayed recall were assessed. The HVLT-R, RBMT Story Memory, ImPACT Verbal Memory Composite, VIGIL, Stroop Test, and BDI were examined to assess convergent and discriminant validity. Results: Analyses revealed that the AVLT immediate and delayed recall indices exhibit medium to large correlations with indices of verbal learning (ranging from r=.24, p<.001 for the RBMT story memory test to r=.51, p<.001 for the ImPACT Verbal Memory Composite), and nonsignificant to small correlations with tests of attention (ranging from r=.03, p=.63 for the PSU Cancellation Task to r=.24, p<.001 for the Vigil). The AVLT immediate and delayed affective bias ratings exhibit small to medium correlations with athletes’ rating of motivation (r=.18, p<.005) and anhedonia (r=-.21, p<.005). Conclusions: These results suggest the AVLT is a valid measure of verbal memory, and a promising indicator of emotional state. A measure that can provide information about both cognitive and affective consequences of head-injury would prove useful in analyzing the severity of a concussion and the recovery progress of an athlete.

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