Evidence for a dissociation of structural and semantic knowledge in dementia of the Alzheimer type (DAT)
Object recognition and naming deficits in dementia of the Alzheimer type (DAT) have typically been attributed to deficits in semantic processing, with only a few studies proposing loci of deficits other than semantic. One possible cause of DAT object recognition impairments could involve deficits in processing structural aspects of visually presented items. In this paper, we assess the performance of a group of mild DAT patients on two tasks of structural access, object decision, and the complete/incomplete task (based on part-whole matching task), as well as on a semantic probes task, designed to assess the patients’ semantic knowledge of the same items for which structural knowledge had earlier been assessed. The DAT patients were substantially impaired in their performance on tasks of structural access. Further, no evidence for item-to-item consistency in the DAT patients’ errors for the structural and semantic tasks was found, raising the possibility that structural and semantic knowledge may become differentially impaired in DAT.