JOURNAL ARTICLE

Semantic error patterns on the Boston Naming Test in normal aging, amnestic mild cognitive impairment, and mild Alzheimer's disease: is there semantic disruption?

Marcio Luiz Figueredo Balthazar, Fernando Cendes, Benito Pereira Damasceno
Neuropsychology 2008, 22 (6): 703-9
18999343
Naming difficulty is common in Alzheimer's disease (AD), but the nature of this problem is not well established. The authors investigated the presence of semantic breakdown and the pattern of general and semantic errors in patients with mild AD, patients with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI), and normal controls by examining their spontaneous answers on the Boston Naming Test (BNT) and verifying whether they needed or were benefited by semantic and phonemic cues. The errors in spontaneous answers were classified in four mutually exclusive categories (semantic errors, visual paragnosia, phonological errors, and omission errors), and the semantic errors were further subclassified as coordinate, superordinate, and circumlocutory. Patients with aMCI performed normally on the BNT and needed fewer semantic and phonemic cues than patients with mild AD. After semantic cues, subjects with aMCI and control subjects gave more correct answers than patients with mild AD, but after phonemic cues, there was no difference between the three groups, suggesting that the low performance of patients with AD cannot be completely explained by semantic breakdown. Patterns of spontaneous naming errors and subtypes of semantic errors were similar in the three groups, with decreasing error frequency from coordinate to superordinate to circumlocutory subtypes.

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