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Neuropsychologia. 2005;43(6):833-46. Epub 2004 Dec 8.

Differing neuropsychological and neuroanatomical correlates of abnormal reading in early-stage semantic dementia and dementia of the Alzheimer type.

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Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, University of Kentucky, MN214 Chandler Medical Center, Lexington, KY 40536-0298, USA.


Individuals with semantic dementia (SD) were differentiated neuropsychologically from individuals with dementia of the Alzheimer type (DAT) at very mild-to-mild stages (clinical dementia rating 0.5 or 1). A picture naming and recognition memory experiment provided a particularly useful probe for early identification, with SD individuals showing preserved picture recognition memory and impaired naming, and DAT individuals tending to show the reverse dissociation. The identification of an early SD group provided the opportunity to inform models of reading by exploring the influence of isolated lexical semantic impairment on reading regular words. Results demonstrated prolonged latency in both SD and DAT group reading compared to a control group but exaggerated influence of frequency and length only for the SD group. The SD reading pattern was associated with focal atrophy of the left temporal pole. These cognitive-neuroanatomical findings suggest a role for the left temporal pole in lexical/semantic components of reading and demonstrate that cortical thickness differences in the left temporal pole correlate with prolonged latency associated with increased reliance on sublexical components of reading.

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