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Is Knowledge of Famous People Compromised in Mild Cognitive Impairment?

Clague, Fiona PhD, DClinpsychol*; Graham, Kim S. PhD; Thompson, Sian A. PhD, MRCP; Hodges, John R. MD, FRCP§

Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology: September 2011 - Volume 24 - Issue 3 - p 134–144
doi: 10.1097/WNN.0b013e318234315a
Original Studies

Objective: This study addressed the issue of whether person naming deficits in mild cognitive impairment (MCI) occurred with deficits in person semantic knowledge and whether person knowledge was more impaired than general semantics.

Background: Recent definitions of MCI are beginning to encompass cognitive impairments outside the domain of episodic memory. Increasing evidence suggests that semantic memory may also be compromised in this patient group, including tasks of person naming and identification.

Methods: Thirteen MCI patients and 14 control subjects matched for age and education performed parallel semantic batteries designed to probe person and general semantic knowledge.

Results: On the person battery, the MCI patients demonstrated impairment relative to controls, on tasks of category fluency, naming, identification, verbal and nonverbal associative and sorting tasks, as well as matching names to faces. By contrast, on the general semantic battery impairments, they were impaired only on category fluency and the nonverbal sorting and associative tasks. A composite measure of person knowledge tasks was also sensitive to disease severity as measured by Mini-Mental State Examination.

Conclusions: These results support the existence of deficits in MCI across various domains of person knowledge, and the suggestion that deterioration of unique semantic exemplars may be sensitive to incipient Alzheimer disease.

Supplemental Digital Content is available in the text.

*Clinical Psychology Department, Stratheden Hospital, Cupar, Fife

School of Psychology, Cardiff University, Park Place, Cardiff

Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, UK

§Neuroscience Research Australia, University of New South Wales, Randwick, Sydney, Australia

This study was supported by Alzheimer's Research Trust (supported by Institute of Social Psychiatry), Medical Research Council, Australian Research Council.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Reprints: John R. Hodges, MD, FRCP, Neuroscience Research Australia, PO Box 1165, Randwick, NSW 2031, Australia (e-mail:

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text and are provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal's Website,

Received April 24, 2010

Accepted July 25, 2011

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.