Semantic intrusions and failure to recover from semantic interference in mild cognitive impairment: Relationship to amyloid and cortical thickness

Rosie E. Curiel, David A. Loewenstein, Monica Rosselli, Ailyn Penate, Maria T. Greig-Custo, Russell M. Bauer, Salvador M. Guinjoan, Kevin S. Hanson, Chunfei Li, Gabriel Lizarraga, William W. Barker, Valeria Torres, Steven DeKosky, Malek Adjouadi, Ranjan Duara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: Accumulating evidence indicates that the failure to recover from the effects of proactive semantic interference [frPSI] represents an early cognitive manifestation of preclinical Alzheimer’s disease. A limitation of this novel paradigm has been a singular focus on the number of targets correctly recalled, without examining co-occurring semantic intrusions [SI] that may highlight specific breakdowns in memory. Objectives: We focused on SI and their relationship to amyloid load and regional cortical thickness among persons with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI). Methods: Thirty-three elders diagnosed with aMCI underwent F-18 florbetaben amyloid PET scanning with MRI scans of the brain. We measured the correlation of SI elicited on cued recall trials of the Loewenstein-Acevedo Scales for Semantic Interference and Learning [LASSI-L] with mean cortical amyloid load and regional cortical thickness in AD prone regions. Results: SI on measures sensitive to frPSI was related to greater total amyloid load and lower overall cortical thickness [CTh]. In particular, SI were highly associated with reduced CTh in the left entorhinal cortex [r=-.71; p<.001] and left medial orbital frontal lobe [r=-.64; p<.001]; together accounting for 66% of the explained variability in regression models. Conclusion. Semantic intrusions on measures susceptible to frPSI related to greater brain amyloid load and lower cortical thickness. These findings further support the hypothesis that frPSI, as expressed by the percentage of intrusions, may be a cognitive marker of initial neurodegeneration and may serve as an early and distinguishing test for preclinical AD that may be used in primary care or clinical trial settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)848-855
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Alzheimer Research
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2018


  • Alzheimer’s
  • Amyloid imaging
  • MCI
  • Mild cognitive impairment
  • Preclinical
  • Semantic intrusions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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