Loss of person-specific knowledge in Alzheimer's disease: evidence from priming


Semantic deficits in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) are often more severe for items that are characterized by a unique semantic and lexical association, such as famous people. Whether these deficits are due to the degradation of semantic information or a deficit in the ability to intentionally access semantic knowledge remains controversial. To assess the integrity of the semantic system without explicitly accessing it, a priming paradigm was used. Semantic and repetition priming effects in individuals with AD (n = 7) and age-matched controls (n = 13) were measured in a familiarity judgment task using visually-presented names of famous people. A defective priming effect in AD subjects was observed in the semantic priming but not in the repetition priming condition. Therefore, the semantic impairments observed in AD may indicate a degraded representation of the semantic information concerning famous people.

David Predovan