Authors: Graham KS, Patterson K, Pratt KH, Hodges JR
Title: Can repeated exposure to “forgotten” vocabulary help alleviate word-finding difficulties in semantic dementia? An illustrative case study
Source: Neuropsychological Rehabilitation 2001 11(3-4): 429-454
Year: 2001
Research Design: Single Case Design

The predominant, and most socially isolating, symptom typically seen in semantic dementia is anomia—word-finding difficulties—in conjunction with a deteriorating central semantic system. In this paper, we demonstrate that repeated rehearsal of the names of concepts paired with pictures of them and/or real items resulted in a dramatic improvement in the ability of a patient (DM) with semantic dementia to produce previously "difficult-to-retrieve" words on tests of word production. Although the substantial improvement shown by DM suggests that home rehearsal with pictorial and verbal stimuli could be a useful rehabilitative strategy for word-finding difficulties in semantic dementia, the experiment also revealed that constant exposure to items was necessary in order to prevent the observed decline in performance once DM's daily drill was stopped. The results are discussed with respect to the underlying neuroanatomical structures thought to be important for the acquisition and storage of long-term memory, and to techniques for facilitating word-finding in patients with aphasia.

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