Semantic category dissociations in naming: Is there a gender effect in Alzheimer's disease?

M. Laiacona, R. Barbarotto, E. Capitani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Several studies on picture naming in Alzheimer's disease have reported inconsistent findings regarding semantic category dissociation. To clarify this point, 26 patients suffering from dementia of the Alzheimer's type (DAT) were given a naming task, based on 60 black and white drawings, which allowed us to take into account several variables that might influence performance, notably word frequency, stimulus familiarity and prototypicality, name and image agreement and visual complexity. On a raw analysis, DAT patients as a group gave a lower performance with stimuli of Living Categories (LC) than with stimuli of Non-Living Categories (NLC), but when all the confounding factors were taken into account the category effect disappeared. Nevertheless, with a multiple single case approach, some patients presented a true dissociation: 11 were significantly better with Non Living stimuli, and 3 with Living stimuli. In order to find what factors were involved in determining this distribution, we took the distribution of asymmetry indices of each patient, and plotted the individual category effect against the level of the general performance. In our sample, the distribution of asymmetry indices was skewed, and included a definite cluster of male subjects who were better at performing with Non-Living stimuli. Multivariate analysis suggested that the greater discrepancy shown by male patients was due to a protection acting on Non-Living stimuli rather than to a selective hampering of Living stimuli. The greater personal experience of males with Non-Living things could explain the relative preservation of these in male DAT subjects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)407-419
Number of pages13
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 1 1998


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Gender effect
  • Naming
  • Semantic categories

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology


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