Proverb interpretation in fluent aphasia and Alzheimer's disease: Implications beyond abstract thinking

S. B. Chapman, H. K. Ulatowska, L. R. Franklin, A. E. Shobe, J. L. Thompson, D. D. Mcintire

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


This study compared proverb processing across three groups, i.e. patients with fluent aphasia (APH), patients with Alzheimer's Disease (AD), and normal control subjects (NC). Proverb stimuli were used to examine the effects of group membership and proverb familiarity in two presentation formats (i.e. spontaneous versus multiple-choice) on performance. The sensitivity of linguistic and cognitive measures as predictors of ability to interpret proverbs was also investigated. In relation to NC subjects, patients with fluent APH exhibited significant difficulty formulating responses for familiar and unfamiliar spontaneous proverbs, whereas patients with AD demonstrated lower performance only on the unfamiliar proverbs. On the multiple-choice paradigm, however, patients with APH exhibited minimal difficulty. Conversely, the patients with AD manifested significant problems selecting the correct abstract response for familiar proverbs. With regard to predictors, language was relevant to familiar proverb interpretations and to proverbs presented in the spontaneous format. Cognition was a sensitive predictor for unfamiliar proverb interpretations and to the multiple-choice format. Deficits on the proverb tasks are discussed with reference to the potential breakdown of underlying linguistic and cognitive processes. The present data support the diagnostic value of proverbs in elucidating brain-behaviour relationships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)337-350
Number of pages14
Issue number4-5
StatePublished - 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • LPN and LVN


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