Preserved Conceptual Implicit Memory for Pictures in Patients with Alzheimer's Disease
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The current study examined different aspects of conceptual implicit memory in patients with mild Alzheimer's disease (AD). Specifically, we were interested in whether priming of distinctive conceptual features versus general semantic information related to pictures and words would differ for the mild AD patients and healthy older adults. In this study, 14 healthy older adults and 15 patients with mild AD studied both pictures and words followed by an implicit test section, where they were asked about distinctive conceptual or general semantic information related to the items they had previously studied (or novel items). Healthy older adults and patients with mild AD showed both conceptual priming and the picture superiority effect, but the AD patients only showed these effects for the questions focused on the distinctive conceptual information. We found that patients with mild AD showed intact conceptual picture priming in a task that required generating a response (answer) from a cue (question) for cues that focused on distinctive conceptual information. This experiment has helped improve our understanding of both the picture superiority effect and conceptual implicit memory in patients with mild AD in that these findings support the notion that conceptual implicit memory might potentially help to drive familiarity-based recognition in the face of impaired recollection in patients with mild AD.