Objective: The present study examined verbal irony comprehension in 31 aMCI and 33 healthy control (HC) subjects. Although nonliteral language impairments have been evidenced in individuals with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) or Alzheimer's disease (AD), verbal irony comprehension remained somewhat underinvestigated in these populations.
Method: A task measured the capacity to attribute Second-order mental state (i.e., theory of mind; ToM) as well as the ability to distinguish an ironic statement from a lie. Subjects were asked to identify, in a short story, whether the final assertion was a lie or an ironic joke.
Results: Our results showed lower performance on a verbal irony comprehension task for aMCI individuals compared with those in the HC group. This pattern of results was related to Second-order ToM and executive functions.
Conclusion: These findings have implications for the conceptualization of aMCI, and foster investigation of social language comprehension in neurodegenerative diseases such as prodromal AD. Results are discussed in light of actual linguistic theories. The importance of evaluating the role of underlying cognitive processes in verbal irony comprehension is also emphasized.
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