Semantic dementia (SD) is characterized by a dramatic loss of conceptual knowledge about the meaning of words and the identity of objects. Previous research has suggested that SD patients' knowledge is differentially influenced by the disease and may decline at different degrees depending on a patient's everyday familiarity with certain items. However, no study has examined (a) semantic knowledge deterioration and (b) the potential significance of autobiographical experience for the maintenance of object concepts in the same cohort of SD patients by using comprehensive assessments of different aspects of object knowledge across an experience-based, distributed semantic memory network. Here, we tested four SD patients and three Alzheimer's disease (AD) control patients using a range of tasks - including naming, gesture generation, and autobiographical knowledge - with personally familiar objects or perceptually similar or different object analogs. Our results showed dissociations between performance on naming relative to other assessments of object knowledge between SD and AD patients, though we did not observe a reliable familiar objects advantage. We discuss different factors that may account for these findings, as well as their implications for research on SD.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Clinical Neurology
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)