Semantic feature degradation and naming performance. Evidence from neurodegenerative disorders

Eleonora Catricalà, Pasquale A. Della Rosa, Valentina Plebani, Daniela Perani, Peter Garrard, Stefano F. Cappa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The failure to name an object in Alzheimer's disease (AD) and in the semantic variant of the primary progressive aphasia (sv-PPA) has been generally attributed to semantic memory loss, with a progressive degradation of semantic features. Not all features, however, may have the same relevance in picture naming. We analyzed the relationship between picture naming performance and the loss of semantic features in patients with AD with or without naming impairment, with sv-PPA and in matched controls, assessing the role of distinctiveness, semantic relevance and feature type (sensorial versus non-sensorial) with a sentence verification task.The results showed that distinctive features with high values of semantic relevance were lost only in all patients with naming impairment. The performance on the sensorial distinctive features with high relevance was the best predictor of naming performance only in sv-PPA, while no difference between sensorial and non-sensorial features was found in AD patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-65
Number of pages8
JournalBrain and Language
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2015


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Distinctiveness
  • Non sensorial
  • Picture naming
  • Semantic features
  • Semantic relevance
  • Semantic variant of the Primary Progressive Aphasia
  • Sensorial

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Language and Linguistics


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