Episodic memory

LASA156 / LASA356

Contact: Hannie Comijs

The 15 Words Test (15WT) is developed to investigate episodic memory problems in patients with brain disorders. It is the Dutch version of the Auditory Verbal Learning Test (AVLT; Rey, 1964; Deelman et al. 1980; Saan RJ & Deelman BG. 1986). This test consists of 15 words, which have to be learned during five trials. After every trial the respondent is asked to recall as many words as possible. After a distraction period of 20 minutes, the respondent is asked to name the words they have learned before, again.

Measurement instrument in LASA
In LASA the number of trials was limited to three because of scarcity of interview time. The test results are strongly influenced by sex, age and education level. Moreover a retest effect after several years is found in healthy subjects caused by knowledge of the procedure. In order to prevent any remembrance of the words two parallel versions of the 15WT are used in order to reduce a possible practice effect.

The number of correct words mentioned at each trial is represented in the variables *MWTT1, *MWTT2 and *MWTT3. The total number of words the respondent has learned during the three presentations is the recall score (variable name: *MTOTAL), which ranges from 0-45. The number of words reproduced after 20 minutes is the delayed recall score (variable name: *MWTDR), ranging from 0-15. The retention score represents the percentage words that is correctly remembered after the distraction period. The retention scores are computed in two ways: delayed recall score/score of trial 3 (*MRET1PC) and delayed recall score/highest score of one of the 3 trials (*MRET2PC). Higher scores on all variables indicate better memory functioning.

LASA*156 contains: the total number of correct words *MWTT1, *MWTT2 and *MWTT3 (from D-wave onwards), particularities during testing, the number of doubles and other words, and the delayed recall score.

LASA*356 contains: *MWTT1, *MWTT2 and *MWTT3 (only in B- and C-wave) and the sumscore of the three trials, the retention scores and the maximum score of the three trials (*MTMA*).

Before using the data of the 15WT it is important to look into the data. Some persons may have missing data or extreme bad scores on one of the trials. Therefor it may be preferable to use the maximum score of the three trials, the delayed recall score *MWTDR and as retention score: delayed recall score/highest score of one of the 3 trials (*MRET2PC) as best indices for memory performance in the LASA sample.

Also as is mentioned before we recommend to calculate the standardized scores of the test scores per measurement, and use those standardized scores in the analyses.

Descriptive statistics of 15 Words Test of waves B-G (pdf).

LASAB156 / LASAC156 / LASAD156 /LASAE156 / LAS2B156 / LASAF156 / LASAG156 / LASAH156 / LAS3B156 / LASAI156
(medical interview, 15WT is copyrighted material)

Variable information
LASAB156 / LASAC156 / LASAD156 /LASAE156 / LAS2B156 / LASAF156 / LASAG156 / LASAH156 / LAS3B156 / LASAI156;
LASAB356 / LASAC356 / LASAD356 /LASAE356 / LAS2B356 / LASAF356 / LASAG356 / LASAH356 / LAS3B356 / LASAI356 (constructed)

Availability in LASA per wave1


























1 More information is available on: 

* 2B=baseline second cohort;
   3B=baseline third cohort;
   MB=migrants: baseline first cohort (Under Construction);
   I=Under Construction

Me=data collected in medical interview

Previous use in LASA
Memory function and memory decline in the elderly was examined by e.g. Aartsen  et al. (2002, 2004), Bierman et al. (2009), Comijs et al. (2001, 2011), Dik et al. (2000, 2000), Gerritsen et al. 2011, Jonker et al. (2003), van den Kommer et al (2009, 2012)


  1. Aartsen, M.J., Smits, C.H.M., Van Tilburg, T.G., Knipscheer C.P.M. & Deeg, D.J.H. (2002). Activity in older adults: Cause or consequence of cognitive functioning? A longitudinal study on everyday activities and cognitive performance in older adults. Journal of Gerontology, 2, 153-162.
  2. Aartsen, M.J., Martin, M, & Zimprich, D (2004). Gender differences in level and change in cognitive functioning: Results from the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam. Gerontology, 50, 35-38.
  3. Bierman EJM, Comijs HC, Jonker C, Scheltens P, Beekman ATF. (2009). The Effect of Anxiety and Depression on Decline of Memory Function in Alzheimer’s Disease. International Psychogeriatrics, 21(6):1142-7.
  4. Comijs HC, Jonker C, Beekman AT and Deeg DJ (2001) The Association Between Depressive Symptoms and Cognitive Decline in Community-Dwelling Elderly Persons. Int.J.Geriatr.Psychiatry; 16 (4): 361-367.
  5. Comijs, H.C., van den Kommer, T.N., Minnaar, R.W.M., Penninx, B.W.J.H., Deeg, D.J.H. (2011). Accumulated and differential effects of life events on cognitive decline in older persons: depending on depression, baseline cognition, or ApoE ε4 status? The Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 66B (S1), i111-i120.
  6. Deelman BG, Brouwer WH, van Zomeren AH, et al. (1980). Functiestoornissen na trauma capitis (Cognitive impairment after trauma capitis). In: Neuropsychologie in Nederland (Neuropsychology in the Netherlands), Jennekens-Schinkel A, Diamant JJ, Diesfeldt HFA, et al. (eds). Deventer, the Netherlands.
  7. Dik MG, Jonker C, Bouter LM, Geerlings MI, van Kamp GJ, Deeg DJ, (2000) APOE-e4 is associated with memory decline in cognitively impaired elderly. Neurology, 54: 1492-1497.
  8. Gerritsen L, Comijs HC, Penninx BWJH, & Geerlings MI. (2011). Salivary cortisol, Apolipoprotein E genotype and cognitive decline in a prospective cohort study of older persons. Neurobiology of Aging, 32, 1615-1625.
  9. Jonker C, Comijs HC, Smit J.H. (2003). Aspirin reduces the risk of cognitive decline. Neurobiology of Aging, 24: 583-588.
  10. Rey A. 1964. L'examen clinique en psychologie (The clinical examination in psychology). Paris: Presse Universitaire de France.
  11. Saan RJ & Deelman BG. (1986). De 15-Woorden Tests A en B. (Een voorlopige handleiding). Groningen: afd. Neuropsychologie, AZG (interne publicatie).
  12. Van den Kommer, T.N., Dik, M.G., Comijs, H.C., Fassbender, K., Jonker, C. (2009). Total cholesterol and oxysterols: Early markers for cognitive decline in elderly? Neurobiology of Aging, 30, 534-545.
  13. Van den Kommer TN, Dik MG, Comijs HC, Jonker C, Deeg DJ. (2012). Role of lipoproteins and inflammation in cognitive decline: do they interact? Neurobiol Aging, 33(1):196.