Article

Naming and knowing in dementia of Alzheimer's type.

University Neurology Unit, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom.
Brain and Language (Impact Factor: 3.31). 09/1996; 54(2):302-25. DOI: 10.1006/brln.1996.0077
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT We studied the relationship between naming and the integrity of physical and associative knowledge in a group of patients with dementia of the Alzheimer type (DAT) and matched normal controls. All subjects named 48 line drawings and later generated verbal definitions in response to the names of a subset of the 48 items, which included a minimum of six definitions for correctly named objects and six definitions for items that the subject failed to name. A comprehensive scoring system was designed for the definitions, including physical and associative features of a general and a specific type, a superordinate label, the core concept, and various categories of errors. The definitions generated by the DAT patients, even those in the minimal group, contained significantly less correct information than those of normal subjects, and definitions corresponding to unnamed items were more impoverished than those for named items. Particularly striking was the loss of core concept for unnamed items. There was also a disproportionate reduction in physical information on unnamed compared to named items. We conclude that quantitative assessment of verbal definitions is a sensitive index of semantic memory breakdown. Our findings offer some support for the hypothesis that successful naming depends upon integrity of the subset of semantic knowledge comprising physical features.

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