Impaired ranking of semantic attributes in dementia

Ellen Grober, Herman Buschke, Claudia Kawas, Paula Fuld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

110 Scopus citations


The present work explored the loss of semantic attributes that is said to occur in dementia. In the first two experiments, subjects had to select attributes that went with concepts like airplane and church. The finding that demented subjects maintained high levels of accuracy when selecting attributes suggested that the semantic content of their concepts was relatively well preserved. The organization of the content was explored in a third experiment by having subjects order attributes according to their relative importance in defining concepts. While demented subjects performed better than chance, they did not rank attributes as well as healthy aged subjects, suggesting a disruption in organization whereby the importance of central attributes is reduced. The hypothesized disruption in organization is viewed in relation to the learning and memory deficit that is the hallmark of the dementias.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)276-286
Number of pages11
JournalBrain and Language
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 1985
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Speech and Hearing


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