Off-topic verbosity (OTV) is tangential discourse with excessive and irrelevant information. Older adults have been historically labeled as having high OTV, and research has suggested that high OTV in older adults may be linked with cognitive decline. While past studies have utilized brief cognitive measures to further expound upon the links between cognition and OTV, studies have lacked consistency and lengthy measures. This study sought to elucidate the relationship between OTV and cognition in both older adult and young adult age cohorts utilizing a sustained attention measure. Young adults (n = 61; age range: 18-28, M = 20.57, SD = 2.33) and older adults (n = 81; age range: 60-98, M = 76.35, SD = 8.21) provided speech samples and participated in the Conners' Continuous Performance Tests – III (CPT-3). Speech samples were rated for tangentiality, egocentrism, and quantity of speech. A MANOVA was conducted and found a multivariate effect for age; older adults scored higher on tangentiality and egocentrism facets of OTV only. A MANCOVA to elucidate how measures in the CPT-3 (commissions and omissions, which represent impulsivity and inattention) affect OTV facets found no significant age differences. Tangentiality displayed moderately significant age differences when controlling for attention. Results suggest that the inattention and impulsivity may be mediate age differences in facets of OTV, and specifically inattention may be a mechanism driving age differences in tangentiality.

Date of publication

Spring 5-2-2020

Document Type




Persistent identifier


Committee members

Michael D. Barnett, Amy Hayes, Sarah Sass


Masters in Clinical Psychology