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Behavioural Neurology
Volume 19, Issue 1-2, Pages 35-40

Patterns of Semantic Memory Impairment in Mild Cognitive Impairment

Sven Joubert,1,2 Olivier Felician,3 Emmanuel J. Barbeau,4 Mira Didic,3 Michel Poncet,3 and Mathieu Ceccaldi3

1Centre de Recherche, Institut Universitaire de Gériatrie de Montréal, Canada
2Département de Psychologie et CERNEC, Université de Montréal, Canada
3AP-HM Timone and Laboratoire de Neurophysiologie et de Neuropsychologie, Université de la Méditerranée, INSERM U751, Marseille, France
4Centre de Recherche Cerveau et Cognition, Université Paul Sabatier Toulouse 3, Toulouse, France

Received 31 March 2008; Accepted 31 March 2008

Copyright © 2008 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.


Although the semantic memory impairment has been largely documented in Alzheimer's disease, little is known about semantic memory in the preclinical phase of the disease (Mild Cognitive Impairment). The purpose of this study was to document the nature of semantic breakdown using a battery of tests assessing different aspects of conceptual knowledge: knowledge about common objects, famous people and famous public events. Results indicate that all domains of semantic memory were impaired in MCI individuals but knowledge about famous people and famous events was affected to a greater extent than knowledge about objects. This pattern of results suggests that conceptual entities with distinctive and unique properties may be more prone to semantic breakdown in MCI. In summary, results of this study support the view that genuine semantic deficits are present in MCI. It could be useful to investigate the etiological outcome of patients failing or succeeding at such tests.