Semantic memory loss in dementia of Alzheimer's type. What do various measures measure?

Brain : a Journal of Neurology
H Chertkow, D Bub

Abstract

This paper examines three methodological issues concerning the measurement of semantic memory impairment in brain-damaged patients. Ten carefully selected patients with dementia of Alzheimer's type (DAT) and anomia were studied. A battery of perceptual tests and direct tests of semantic memory led to the conclusion that these patients represented a homogeneous group having a prominent deterioration of their semantic memory store without visual perceptual deficits. The first issue addressed in this patient group was whether verbal fluency impairment accurately reflected the loss of semantic memory. It was found that verbal fluency (generation of semantic category lists) was impaired due to two major constraints: deterioration of semantic memory store, and variable difficulties in semantic search. Verbal fluency, therefore, reflects semantic memory loss to some degree, but is not a direct test of semantic memory store in DAT. The second issue was whether semantic memory impairment in our patients conformed to the 'semantic storage disorder' syndrome hypothesized by Shallice (1987). It was shown that, consistent with this hypothesis, the patients demonstrated co-occurrence of consistency of errors, loss of semantic cueing, and pre...Continue Reading

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