Evidence for impaired sentence comprehension in early Alzheimer’s disease.

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We investigated sentence comprehension in 46 patients with probable minimal (very mild), mild, or moderate dementia of the Alzheimer type (DAT), comparing their performance on the Test for the Reception of Grammar (TROG), with that of 20 age- and education-matched controls. Performance on the TROG was generally related to dementia severity, independent of lexicosemantic and working memory (digit span) impairments, but related to at least 1 measure of attention.

Some patients in the minimal group showed sentence comprehension deficits while others in the moderate group did not, indicating that DAT may impair sentence comprehension at the very earliest stages of disease, but that its effects are heterogeneous. Patients were most impaired on sentences with 2 propositions and noncanonical word order, suggesting difficulties with both interpretative and postinterpretative stages of sentence processing.

Further investigation is needed into the relationship between attentional processes, interpretative and postinterpretative stages of syntactic processing in DAT.

Source: J Int Neuropsychol Soc 1999 Jul;5(5):393-404

PMID: 10439585, UI: 99368440

(Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, Cambridge, UK.)

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