Altered Patterns of Word Associations in Dementia and Aphasia


The Word Associations of 38 Demented, 17 Aphasic, and 22 Normal Subjects Were Studied. Both Normal and Brain-Injured Subjects Appear to Make Judgments About the Grammatical Class of the Word Stimulus. Certain Stimulus Words (Especially Nouns and Adjectives) Elicit Paradigmatic Responses Whereas Other Words (Especially Verbs and Adverbs) Elicit Syntagmatic Responses. the Mechanism Producing Syntagmatic Responses Seems Relatively Resistant to Deterioration in Dementia or Aphasia. However, in Dementia the Mechanism that Generates Paradigmatic Responses Becomes Progressively Less Efficient (Possibly Due to a Loss of Semantic Markers) and Consequently More Random (Idiosyncratic) Responses Emerge. Perseverative Responses, Inhibited in Normal Subjects, Are More Prevalent in Dementia. Anomic Aphasics Show a Pattern of Word Associations Similar to that of Subjects with Mild Dementia. Broca's Aphasics, While Making Fewer Paradigmatic Associations Than Normals, Retain Enough Self-Monitoring Mechanisms So that Few Idiosyncratic and Perseverative Responses Are Made While More Null Responses Occur. Wernicke's Aphasics Show a Marked Shift Away from a Paradigmatic Word Association Strategy, Possibly Due to an Inability to Access Semantic Markers or a True Loss of These Markers. Metalinguistic Deficits (I.e., a Failure to Adopt an Appropriate Strategy) May Also Contribute to This Shift Away from Paradigmatic Associations. Furthermore, a Disruption of Self-Monitoring Mechanisms in Wernicke's Aphasia Leads to an Increase in Perseverative and Idiosyncratic Responses. © 1984.




Retirement Research Foundation, Grant None

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

1090-2155; 0093-934X

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


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© 2023 Elsevier, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jan 1984

PubMed ID