Abstract and concrete categories? Evidences from neurodegenerative diseases

Eleonora Catricalà, Pasquale A. Della Rosa, Valentina Plebani, Gabriella Vigliocco, Stefano F. Cappa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We assessed the performance of patients with a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and of the semantic variant of primary progressive aphasia (sv-PPA) in a series of tasks involving both abstract and concrete stimuli, which were controlled for most of the variables that have been shown to affect performance on lexical-semantic tasks. Our aims were to compare the patients' performance on abstract and concrete stimuli and to assess category-effects within the abstract and concrete domains. The results showed: (i) a better performance on abstract than concrete concepts in sv-PPA patients. (ii) Category-related effects in the abstract domain, with emotion concepts being preserved in AD and social relations being selectively impaired in sv-PPA. In addition, a living-non living dissociation may be (infrequently) observed in individual AD patients after controlling for an extensive set of potential confounds.Thus, differences between and within the concrete or abstract domain may be present in patients with semantic memory disorders, mirroring the different brain regions involved by the different pathologies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-281
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2014


  • Abstract concepts
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Concrete concepts
  • Emotion
  • Living-non living dissociation
  • Semantic memory
  • Semantic variant of the primary progressive aphasia
  • Social relation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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