Word retrieval in picture descriptions produced by individuals with Alzheimer’s disease

Gitit Kavé, Mira Goral

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


What can tests of single-word production tell us about word retrieval in connected speech? We examined this question in 20 people with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and in 20 cognitively intact individuals. All participants completed tasks of picture naming and semantic fluency and provided connected speech through picture descriptions. Picture descriptions were analyzed for total word output, percentages of content words, percentages of nouns, and percentages of pronouns out of all words, type–token ratio of all words and type–token ratio of nouns alone, mean frequency of all words and mean frequency of nouns alone, and mean word length. Individuals with AD performed worse than did cognitively intact individuals on the picture naming and semantic fluency tasks. They also produced a lower proportion of content words overall, a lower proportion of nouns, and a higher proportion of pronouns, as well as more frequent and shorter words on picture descriptions. Group differences in total word output and type–token ratios did not reach significance. Correlations between scores on tasks of single-word retrieval and measures of retrieval in picture descriptions emerged in the AD group but not in the control group. Scores on a picture naming task were associated with difficulties in word retrieval in connected speech in AD, while scores on a task of semantic verbal fluency were less useful in predicting measures of retrieval in context in this population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)958-966
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology
Issue number9
StatePublished - 20 Oct 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Connected speech
  • Dementia
  • Discourse
  • Lexical retrieval
  • Noun frequency
  • Picture naming
  • Semantic fluency


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