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Dementia & Neuropsychologia

Print version ISSN 1980-5764

Abstract

BALTHAZAR, Marcio L.F. et al. Neural correlates of lexical-semantic memory: A voxel-based morphometry study in mild AD, aMCI and normal aging. Dement. neuropsychol. [online]. 2011, vol.5, n.2, pp.69-77. ISSN 1980-5764.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1980-57642011DN05020003.

Neuroanatomical correlations of naming and lexical-semantic memory are not yet fully understood. The most influential approaches share the view that semantic representations reflect the manner in which information has been acquired through perception and action, and that each brain area processes different modalities of semantic representations. Despite these anatomical differences in semantic processing, generalization across different features that have similar semantic significance is one of the main characteristics of human cognition.

Methods:

We evaluated the brain regions related to naming, and to the semantic generalization, of visually presented drawings of objects from the Boston Naming Test (BNT), which comprises different categories, such as animals, vegetables, tools, food, and furniture. In order to create a model of lesion method, a sample of 48 subjects presenting with a continuous decline both in cognitive functions, including naming skills, and in grey matter density (GMD) was compared to normal young adults with normal aging, amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) and mild Alzheimer's disease (AD). Semantic errors on the BNT, as well as naming performance, were correlated with whole brain GMD as measured by voxel-based morphometry (VBM).

Results:

The areas most strongly related to naming and to semantic errors were the medial temporal structures, thalami, superior and inferior temporal gyri, especially their anterior parts, as well as prefrontal cortices (inferior and superior frontal gyri).

Conclusion:

The possible role of each of these areas in the lexical-semantic networks was discussed, along with their contribution to the models of semantic memory organization.

Keywords : semantic memory; naming; voxel-based morphometry; Alzheimer's disease; mild cognitive impairment..

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