Lexical acquisition in probable Alzheimer’s disease.

Grossman, M, Mickanin J, Onishi K, Robinson KM, D’Esposito.  1997.  Lexical acquisition in probable Alzheimer’s disease., 1997 Dec. Brain and Language. 60(3):443-463.


Patients with probable Alzheimer’s disease (pAD) were exposed to a new verb in a naturalistic fashion. We probed their knowledge of the word’s semantic and grammatical characteristics for several minutes following this exposure, and compared this with their performance on parallel measures assessing known words. Significant differences were seen between pAD patients and controls in the acquisition of the new verb’s semantic meaning and its argument structure, but pAD patients did not differ from controls in the acquisition of the new word’s grammatical form class. Individual patient analyses demonstrated parallel deficits restricted to the semantic meaning and argument structure of the new word and known words in several pAD patients, suggesting that a selective language impairment contributed to their word learning deficit. This pattern is consistent with an intimate relationship between semantic meaning and argument structure in semantic memory. Other pAD patients had difficulty learning about all aspects of the new word, despite good performance with known words, suggesting that compromised memory may have limited their lexical acquisition.



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