Improved verbal learning in the semantic variant of primary progressive aphasia when using semantic cues

Academic Article


  • © 2014, Taylor & Francis. The semantic variant of primary progressive aphasia (PPA-S) is characterized by impairments in confrontation naming and single word comprehension. Although episodic memory may be relatively spared, there can be impairment in verbal learning tasks. We report a patient with PPA-S and impaired verbal learning who was tested to learn if when provided with semantic categories, her learning would improve. A 70-year-old right-handed woman with a 2-year history of progressive difficulties with word finding, naming, and memory was tested for language and memory deficits using the Hopkins Verbal Learning Test-Revised (HVLT-R). She was then retested with the HVLT-R after being provided with the three semantic categories to which these words belonged. Confrontation naming was impaired on the Boston Naming Test. Sentence repetition was normal. Comprehension testing with word picture matching and sentence comprehension was normal. On a test of semantic associations, Pyramids and Palm Trees, she was impaired. She was also impaired on tests of verbal learning (HVLT-R) (total: 13) but not recall. When a different version of the HVLT-R was given with the semantic categories of the words given beforehand, her scores improved (total: 26). This patient with PPA-S had an impairment of verbal learning, but not delayed recall. When given a semantic category cue beforehand, her verbal learning performance improved. This observation suggests that this patient did not spontaneously use semantic encoding. Using a semantic cueing strategy may help other patients with PPA-S improve their capacity for verbal learning.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • Neurocase  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Milano NJ; Williamson JB; Heilman KM
  • Start Page

  • 345
  • End Page

  • 350
  • Volume

  • 21
  • Issue

  • 3