Inhibitory control during sentence comprehension in individuals with dementia of the Alzheimer type

Brain Lang. 1997 Apr;57(2):225-53. doi: 10.1006/brln.1997.1747.


In two experiments we investigated the extent to which individuals with dementia of the Alzheimer type (DAT) manage the activation of contextually appropriate and inappropriate meanings of ambiguous words during sentence comprehension. DAT individuals and healthy older individuals read sentences that ended in ambiguous words and then determined if a test word fit the overall meaning of the sentence. Analysis of response latencies indicated that DAT individuals were less efficient than healthy older individuals at suppressing inappropriate meanings of ambiguous words not implied by sentence context, but enhanced appropriate meanings to the same extent, if not more, than healthy older adults. DAT individuals were also more likely to allow inappropriate information to actually drive responses (i.e., increased intrusion errors). Overall, the results are consistent with a growing number of studies demonstrating impairments in inhibitory control, with relative preservation of facilitatory processes, in DAT.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease*
  • Humans
  • Language*
  • Speech Perception*