Authors: Bier N, Macoir J, Gagnon L, Louveaux S, Desrosiers J
Title: Known, lost, and recovered: efficacy of formal-semantic therapy and spaced retrieval method in a case of semantic dementia
Source: Aphasiology 2009 23(2): 210-235
Year: 2009
Research Design: Single Case Design

Background: Few studies have addressed rehabilitation in semantic dementia. A potentially promising method is formal-semantic therapy, which consists of tasks in which the names of concepts and their semantic characteristics are presented. It could also be enhanced by spaced retrieval, a learning method improving retention through recalling information after increasing recall intervals. Aims: This study explores the efficacy of both a formal-semantic therapy and the spaced retrieval method to restore lost concepts in TBo, a woman with semantic dementia. Methods and Procedures: The formal-semantic therapy consisted of giving TBo semantic feedback followed by a cueing technique to facilitate naming. Formal-semantic therapy with simple repetition was compared to formal-semantic therapy with spaced retrieval. TBo's performance was measured throughout the study with picture naming and generation of verbal attributes. Two untrained lists were also measured for generalisation effects. Outcomes and Results: Results indicate that, after therapy, TBo could name 3/8 of the trained items, compared to no items on the untrained lists. She also showed an increase in performance for the evocation of specific semantic attributes of concepts, reaching 6/8 of correct responses. Moreover, she maintained her performance up to 5 weeks after the end of the study. Finally, when compared to simple repeated practice, spaced retrieval did not enhance learning and no generalisation was observed between trained and non-trained categories. Conclusions: Along with recent results reported in the literature, TBo's results confirm that people with semantic dementia can improve their naming performance with training but that this is limited. However, formal-semantic therapy seems very promising for retraining specific semantic attributes. Instead of focusing on naming, we suggest that therapies used in semantic dementia should aim at restoring specific and functionally relevant concepts to enable the individuals to be more autonomous in daily living.

Access: Paywall