Comparative semantic profiles in semantic dementia and Alzheimer's disease

David J. Libon, Katya Rascovsky, John Powers, David J. Irwin, Ashley Boller, Danielle Weinberg, Corey T. McMillan, Murray Grossman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations

Abstract

Patients with the semantic variant of primary progressive aphasia, also known as semantic dementia, and Alzheimer's disease have deficits in semantic memory. However, few comparative studies have been performed to determine whether these patient groups have distinct semantic memory impairments. We asked 15 patients with semantic variant primary progressive aphasia and 57 patients with Alzheimer's disease to judge semantic category membership of coloured photos and printed words that are members of familiar natural and manufactured categories, and we related performance to grey matter atrophy. We found that both semantic variant primary progressive aphasia and Alzheimer's disease are significantly impaired on this task. Moreover, patients with semantic variant primary progressive aphasia had a significantly more prominent deficit for natural objects than their own deficit judging manufactured objects. Both semantic variant primary progressive aphasia and Alzheimer's disease had atrophy that included portions of the left temporal lobe. Regression analyses related performance in semantic variant primary progressive aphasia to ventral and medial portions of the left temporal lobe, while regression analyses in Alzheimer's disease related performance to these ventral and medial temporal areas as well as lateral temporal-parietal regions in the left hemisphere. We conclude that both semantic variant primary progressive aphasia and Alzheimer's disease are significantly impaired in a simple category membership judgement task and the selective impairment for natural kinds in semantic variant primary progressive aphasia is related in part to disease in visual association cortex in ventral-medial portions of the left temporal lobe. We discuss factors that may contribute to the semantic memory deficit in semantic variant primary progressive aphasia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2497-2509
Number of pages13
JournalBrain
Volume136
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Neurology

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