The Relationship Between Measures of Working Memory and Sentence Comprehension in Patients With Alzheimer’s Disease Patients with dementia of the Alzheimer’s type (DAT) and age- and education-matched older volunteers were tested on a battery of working memory tests, as well as on two tests of sentence comprehension. Patients had reduced spans and impaired central executive processes in working memory but showed normal effects of phonological ... Research Article
Research Article  |   April 01, 2000
The Relationship Between Measures of Working Memory and Sentence Comprehension in Patients With Alzheimer’s Disease
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Elizabeth Rochon
    McGill University Montreal, Canada
  • Gloria S. Waters
    McGill University Montreal, Canada
  • David Caplan
    Massachusetts General Hospital Boston, MA
  • Corresponding author: e-mail: elizabeth.rochon@utoronto.ca
  • Currently affiliated with the Department of Speech-Language Pathology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
    Currently affiliated with the Department of Speech-Language Pathology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada×
  • Currently affiliated with the Department of Communication Disorders, Boston University, Boston, MA
    Currently affiliated with the Department of Communication Disorders, Boston University, Boston, MA×
Article Information
Special Populations / Older Adults & Aging / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   April 01, 2000
The Relationship Between Measures of Working Memory and Sentence Comprehension in Patients With Alzheimer’s Disease
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2000, Vol. 43, 395-413. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4302.395
History: Received June 25, 1999 , Accepted September 16, 1999
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2000, Vol. 43, 395-413. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4302.395
History: Received June 25, 1999; Accepted September 16, 1999

Patients with dementia of the Alzheimer’s type (DAT) and age- and education-matched older volunteers were tested on a battery of working memory tests, as well as on two tests of sentence comprehension. Patients had reduced spans and impaired central executive processes in working memory but showed normal effects of phonological and articulatory variables on span. On the sentence comprehension tasks, DAT patients showed effects of the number of propositions in a sentence but not of syntactic complexity. Impairment in the central executive processes of working memory in DAT patients was correlated with the effect of the number of propositions in a sentence on the sentence comprehension tasks. The results suggest that patients with DAT have working memory impairments that are related to their ability to map the meanings of sentences onto depictions of events in the world.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by a Medical Research Council of Canada Grant (MA9671), to Gloria Waters and a grant from the National Institute of Aging (AG09661) to David Caplan. Elizabeth Rochon was supported by a fellowship from the National Health Research and Development Program (Health and Welfare Canada), and a postdoctoral fellowship from the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada.
The authors thank Dr. Howard Chertkow of the Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research of the Jewish General Hospital, Montreal, and Drs. John Growdon and Marilyn Albert, of the Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, for referring the patients who participated in this study.
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