Authors: Morelli CA, Altmann LJP, Kendall D, Fischler I, Heilman KM
Title: Effects of semantic elaboration and typicality on picture naming in Alzheimer disease
Source: Journal of Communication Disorders 2011 44(4): 413-428
Year: 2011
Research Design: Case Series

Purpose: Individuals with probable Alzheimer disease (pAD) are frequently impaired at picture naming. This study examined whether a semantic elaboration task would facilitate naming in pAD, and whether training either semantically typical or atypical stimulus items facilitated generalized improvement in picture naming and category generation tasks. Methods: Twelve adults with mild-moderate pAD participated in the study. Participants performed an experimental semantic elaboration training task using a subset of typical items from one category and atypical items from another category. The third category, acted as a control (i.e., no items were trained). The study assessed change in category generation and a picture naming within the three target categories. Results: Individuals showed significantly improved category generation and naming, but changes were not limited to trained categories. Naming of trained atypical items improved significantly. Participants showed significantly improved naming of untrained typical items from categories trained with typical items. Conclusions: Semantic elaboration of typical items within a semantic category can lead to generalized improvement in other typical items in the category in mild-moderate pAD. This is consistent with theories postulating that typical category items share overlapping distributed representations. Further exploration of the effects of semantic elaboration on word-finding in pAD is warranted, especially the possibility of within-category generalization.

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