Author(s): Hodges JR, Salmon DP, Butters N
A battery of neuropsychological tests designed to assess semantic knowledge about the same items both within and across different modalities was administered to a group of 22 patients with dementia of the Alzheimer type (DAT) and 26 matched controls. The DAT patients were impaired on tests of category fluency, picture naming, spoken word-picture matching, picture sorting and generation of verbal definitions. A relative preservation of superordinate knowledge on the sorting and definition tests, as well as a disproportionate reduction in the generation of exemplars from lower order categories was noted. Analysis of the errors made by each patient across the different tests, revealed a significant correspondence between the individual items. These findings offer compelling evidence that the semantic breakdown in DAT is caused by storage degradation.