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Dementia & Neuropsychologia

Print version ISSN 1980-5764

Dement. neuropsychol. vol.2 no.3 São Paulo July/Sept. 2008 

Original Articles

Subclinical naming errors in mild cognitive impairment: A semantic deficit?

Erros subclínicos de nomeação no comprometimento cognitivo leve: um déficit semântico?

Indra F. Willers 1   2  

Mónica L. Feldman 2  

Ricardo F. Allegri 2   3  

1Utrecht University, the Netherlands.

2Department of Neuropsychology (SIREN), CEMIC School of Medicine & Research Institute, Buenos Aires, Argentina.



Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is the transitional stage between normal aging and Alzheimer's disease (AD). Impairments in semantic memory have been demonstrated to be a critical factor in early AD. The Boston Naming Test (BNT) is a straightforward method of examining semantic or visuo-perceptual processing and therefore represents a potential diagnostic tool. The objective of this study was to examine naming ability and identify error types in patients with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI).


Twenty aMCI patients, twenty AD patients and twenty-one normal controls, matched by age, sex and education level were evaluated. As part of a further neuropsychological evaluation, all subjects performed the BNT. A comprehensive classification of error types was devised in order to compare performance and ascertain semantic or perceptual origin of errors.


AD patients obtained significantly lower total scores on the BNT than aMCI patients and controls. aMCI patients did not obtain significant differences in total scores, but showed significantly higher semantic errors compared to controls.


This study reveals that semantic processing is impaired during confrontation naming in aMCI.

Key words: amnestic; mild cognitive impairment; dementia; Alzheimer; naming.


Comprometimento cognitivo leve (CCL) é um estágio de transição entre o envelhecimento normal e a doença de Alzheimer (DA). Comprometimento da memória semântica tem sido demonstrado como um fator crítico na DA precoce. O Teste de Nomeação de Boston (TNB) é um meio fácil para examinar o processamento semântico e viso-espacial e também um instrumento potencial de diagnóstico.


Examinar a habilidade de nomeação e discriminar os tipos de erros em pacientes com CCL amnéstico (CCLa).


Vinte pacientes com CCLa, 20 pacientes com DA e 21 controles normais pareados por idade, sexo e nível educacional foram avaliados. Como parte da avaliação neuropsicológica a todos foi administrado o TNB. Uma ampla classificação dos tipos de erros foi realizada a fim de comparar o desempenho e conhecer a origem semântica ou perceptiva dos erros.


Os pacientes com DA obtiveram piores escores totais no TNB do que os pacientes com CCLa e controles. Os pacientes com CCLa não tiveram diferenças significativas nos escores totais, porém, mostraram um número maior e significativo de erros semânticos comparados aos controles.


Este estudo revela que o processamento semântico está comprometido durante a nomeação por confrontação no CCLa.

Palavras-chave: amnéstico; comprometimento cognitivo leve; demência; doença de Alzheimer.

Texto completo disponível apenas em PDF.

Full text available only in PDF format.


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Received: May 19, 2008; Accepted: August 23, 2008

Indra Willers - Department of Neuropsychology (SIREN), CEMIC School of Medicine & Research Institute - Av. E. Galván 4102, C1431FWO, Buenos Aires - Argentina. E-mail: -

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