Taxonomic Interference Associated with Phonemic Paraphasias in Agrammatic Primary Progressive Aphasia

M. J. Nelson*, S. Moeller, A. Basu, L. Christopher, E. J. Rogalski, M. Greicius, S. Weintraub, B. Bonakdarpour, R. S. Hurley, M. M. Mesulam

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Phonemic paraphasias are thought to reflect phonological (post-semantic) deficits in language production. Here we present evidence that phonemic paraphasias in non-semantic primary progressive aphasia (PPA) may be associated with taxonomic interference. Agrammatic and logopenic PPA patients and control participants performed a word-To-picture visual search task where they matched a stimulus noun to 1 of 16 object pictures as their eye movements were recorded. Participants were subsequently asked to name the same items. We measured taxonomic interference (ratio of time spent viewing related vs. unrelated foils) during the search task for each item. Target items that elicited a phonemic paraphasia during object naming elicited increased taxonomic interference during the search task in agrammatic but not logopenic PPA patients. These results could reflect either very subtle sub-clinical semantic distortions of word representations or partial degradation of specific phonological word forms in agrammatic PPA during both word-To-picture matching (input stage) and picture naming (output stage). The mechanism for phonemic paraphasias in logopenic patients seems to be different and to be operative at the pre-Articulatory stage of phonological retrieval. Glucose metabolic imaging suggests that degeneration in the left posterior frontal lobe and left temporo-parietal junction, respectively, might underlie these different patterns of phonemic paraphasia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2529-2541
Number of pages13
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 14 2020


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • dementia
  • eye tracking
  • interference
  • phonology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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