Category-Specific Verb-Semantic Naming Deficit in Alzheimer’s Disease: Evidence from a Dynamic Action Naming Task

AbstractNumerous studies have found category-specific semantic deficits in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Thus far, however, only a small number of studies have investigated how semantic categories lexicalized by verbs are represented, and how these categories might be impaired in AD. We investigated the representation and breakdown of verb knowledge employing different syntactic and semantic classes of verbs in a group of probable AD patients (N=10) and matched controls. In our main task, we employed movies of events and states depicting verbs belonging to three different classes: causatives, perception/psychological, and movement verbs. These verbs differ with regards to their argument structure, the thematic roles they assign, and their hypothetical semantic templates. Patients had more difficult employing verbs of the perception/psychological class. We suggest that thematic roles play the most important role in verb semantic representations. We further suggest that verbs are not represented by decompositional semantic templates.

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