Semantic memory in Alzheimer's disease and the frontotemporal dementias: a longitudinal study of 236 patients

Neuropsychology. 2006 May;20(3):319-35. doi: 10.1037/0894-4105.20.3.319.


Using semantic dementia (SD) as a reference point, the authors assessed semantic memory in four other neurodegenerative disorders: progressive nonfluent aphasia (PNFA), frontal variant frontotemporal dementia (fvFTD), Alzheimer's disease (AD), and posterior cortical atrophy (PCA). Individuals with SD were more impaired than other groups on semantic measures and showed a characteristic pattern across tasks: category fluency (CF) worse than letter fluency (LF), naming worse than comprehension, and visual and verbal comprehension equally affected, suggesting disruption to an amodal semantic system. Individuals with AD demonstrated a similar pattern to a milder degree. Although PNFA, fvFTD, and PCA groups had abnormal scores (relative to controls) on most semantic measures, their differing patterns across measures indicate that the apparent semantic impairment in these conditions is largely secondary to other factors.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease / physiopathology*
  • Comprehension / physiology
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Dementia / physiopathology*
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Mental Status Schedule
  • Neuropsychological Tests / statistics & numerical data
  • Problem Solving / physiology
  • Semantics*
  • Verbal Behavior / physiology