The Verbal Paired Associates (VPA) subtest from the Wechsler Memory Scale-III (WMS-III) is one of the most widely used instruments for assessing explicit episodic memory performance. The normative data for the VPA subtest in the WMS-III manual show clear evidence of performance ceiling effects that limit the usefulness of this instrument. For this reason, we developed a new 15-item VPA test and we report normative data obtained from a partially stratified sample of 351 healthy adults between 18 and 91 years of age. Only a small fraction of participants obtained perfect scores on our new Paired Associates test. The results show the expected large age-related decline in memory acquisition, indexed by performance on the first study test trial, together with a much smaller age effect on learning across trials. The results also show that performance on the Paired Associates test is related to education, verbal IQ, and to a lesser extent, participants' sex. We provide various equations for precise predictions of Paired Associates test performance.

Author notes

A preliminary report of this work was presented at the annual meeting of the National Academy of Neuropsychology in San Antonio, TX (November, 1999).