Retrieval from semantic memory in Alzheimer-type dementia

B. A. Ober, Nina Dronkers, E. Koss, D. C. Delis, R. P. Friedland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

205 Scopus citations


Retrieval from semantic memory, measured by tasks requiring subjects to name items from a given category, was studied in mild Alzheimer-type dementia (Mild-ATD) subjects, moderate-to-severe Alzheimer-type dementia (MS-ATD) subjects, and normal controls. Semantic retrieval performance was shown to be highly sensitive to both the presence and the severity of ATD. Retrieval from both semantic categories and letter categories showed differences in the rate of production of correct responses between subject groups. These rate differences were not due to differences in accessibility of low-dominance semantic category members or low-frequency letter category members. An increase in errors as well as a decrease in correct responses contributed to the performance deficits of the ATD subjects. Furthermore, the pattern of errors changed from Mild- to MS-ATD. Qualitative as well as quantitative differences were also observed in the performance of Mild- versus MS-ATD groups on a third type of semantic retrieval task - the supermarket task. As performance of the ATD subjects declined on these semantic retrieval tasks, so did their performance on other tasks assessing primarily attention, language, and memory. The findings are discussed in terms of the progressive breakdown in both attentional and semantic memory functions which are associated with ATD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-92
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1986
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology
  • Psychology(all)
  • Clinical Psychology


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