Are semantic errors actually semantic?: Evidence from alzheimer's disease

Brain and Language
O MoreaudJ Pellat


Patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD) produce a high rate of semantic errors when naming to confrontation. This is considered to be one of the many consequences of their semantic memory deficit. However, it has been shown, in aphasic patients with focal lesions, that semantic errors could arise from impairment to any one of the levels in the naming process. To check this hypothesis in AD, we assessed in 15 patients the capacity to name and access semantic knowledge (by multiple-choice probe questions) about 14 objects presented successively in the visual, tactile, auditory, and verbal modalities. In the visual naming task, 33 errors were recorded: 26 (78.8%) were semantic and 7 (21.2%) were unrelated errors. Of the 26 semantic errors, 8 were related to a deficit of the semantic knowledge related to the item and 17 to a deficit in the retrieval of the phonological form of the word. One was associated with a deficit of access to semantic knowledge in the visual modality. The 7 unrelated errors were associated with a loss of semantic knowledge for 4 and deficit of access to the phonological form for 3. In conclusion, this study shows that semantic errors do not systematically reflect a deficit of semantic knowledge in Alzheimer's...Continue Reading


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