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Behavioural Neurology
Volume 18, Issue 4, Pages 197-206

Naming of Grammatical Classes in Frontotemporal Dementias: Linguistic and Non Linguistic Factors Contribute to Noun-Verb Dissociation

Maria Caterina Silveri and Nicoletta Ciccarelli

Memory Clinic, Centre for the Medecine of Aging, Catholic University, Rome, Italy

Received 18 February 2008; Accepted 18 February 2008

Copyright © 2007 Hindawi Publishing Corporation and the authors. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


We studied noun and verb naming in three main variants of frontotemporal dementia: the frontal variant(Fv-FTD), primary progressive aphasia (PPA) and semantic dementia (SD). We further distinguished PPA in nonfluent and fluent forms and restricted diagnosis of SD to subjects with progressive semantic breakdown leading to agnosia for words and objects. Fv-FTD and nonfluent-PPA named objects better than actions, SD showed an inverse dissociation and no specific pattern emerged in fluent-PPA. In this last group, in spite of the broad definition of fluent aphasia, quite heterogeneous patterns of language disorders and word class dissociation emerged when single-subject analyses were performed. In fv-FTD correlations between executive tasks and action naming were stronger than between executive tasks and object naming. We conclude that both linguistic and non linguistic factors, in particular an executive deficit, contribute to grammatical class dissociation. We also suggest that the fluent vs. nonfluent distinction does not reflect the complexity of primary aphasia.