The neural substrates responsible for semantic dysfunction during the early stages of AD have yet to be clearly identified. After a brief overview of the literature on normal and pathological semantic memory, we describe a new approach, designed to provide fresh insights into semantic deficits in AD. We mapped the correlations between resting-state brain glucose utilisation measured by FDG-PET and semantic priming scores in a group of 17 AD patients. The priming task, which yields a particularly pure measurement of semantic memory, was composed of related pairs of words sharing an attribute relationship (e.g. tiger-stripe). The priming scores correlated positively with the metabolism of the superior temporal areas on both sides, especially the right side, and this correlation was shown to be specific to the semantic priming effect. This pattern of results is discussed in the light of recent theoretical models of semantic memory, and suggests that a dysfunction of the right superior temporal cortex may contribute to early semantic deficits, characterised by the loss of specific features of concepts in AD. © 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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