Staci Robyn

Date of Graduation


Document Type



The nature of semantic memory deficits in Alzheimer's disease (AD) has been subject to controversy. It is unclear whether semantic memory is impaired because of degradation of semantic knowledge or due to information processing deficits. This study compared 18 patients with AD to 18 control participants who did not differ significantly in age, education, or gender on three working memory tasks. Three variations of the Self Ordered Pointing Task (SOPT) which varied in the degree of ability to utilize semantic processing skills were administered. Results indicated that patients with AD demonstrated working memory impairments compared to control participants. However, patients with AD were able to utilize semantic knowledge to aid in their working memory performance to the same degree as control participants. This suggests that semantic knowledge is not truly degraded at least in the early, mildly impaired patients with AD. Future directions for research are discussed.