Visual processing in Alzheimer's disease : surface detail and colour fail to aid object identification
It has been suggested that object recognition in patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD) may be strongly influenced both by image format (e.g. colour vs. line-drawn) and by low-level visual impairments. To examine these notions, we tested basic visual functioning and picture naming in 41 AD patients and 40 healthy elderly controls. Picture naming was examined using 105 images representing a wide range of living and nonliving subcategories (from the Hatfield image test [HIT]: [Adlington, R. A., Laws, K. R., & Gale, T. M. (in press). The Hatfield image test (HIT): A new picture test and norms for experimental and clinical use. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology]), with each item presented in colour, greyscale, or line-drawn formats. Whilst naming for elderly controls improved linearly with the addition of surface detail and colour, AD patients showed no benefit from the addition of either surface information or colour. Additionally, controls showed a significant category by format interaction; however, the same profile did not emerge for AD patients. Finally, AD patients showed widespread and significant impairment on tasks of visual functioning, and low-level visual impairment was predictive of patient naming.