Modeling Abnormal Priming in Alzheimer’s Patients with a Free Association Network
Alzheimer’s Disease irremediably alters the proficiency of word search and retrieval processes even at its early stages. Such disruption can sometimes be paradoxical in specific language tasks, for example semantic priming. Here we focus in the striking side-effect of hyperpriming in Alzheimer’s Disease patients, which has been well-established in the literature for a long time. Previous studies have evidenced that modern network theory can become a powerful complementary tool to gain insight in cognitive phenomena. Here, we first show that network modeling is an appropriate approach to account for semantic priming in normal subjects. Then we turn to priming in degraded cognition: hyperpriming can be readily understood in the scope of a progressive degradation of the semantic network structure. We compare our simulation results with previous empirical observations in diseased patients finding a qualitative agreement. The network approach presented here can be used to accommodate current theories about impaired cognition, and towards a better understanding of lexical organization in healthy and diseased patients.
from PLoS ONE