Thinking metaphorically in Alzheimer’s Disease: priming cognitive domains to understand inferential content of sentences

Abstract

This paper looks into the effects of visual/linguistic stimuli in the activation of cognitive domains (e.g. image schemas for primary metaphors) which are necessary for the understanding of sentences content by individuals affected by Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). AD studies point out to cognitive impairments at early stages of the disease which make comprehension tasks such as abstract inference, and metaphorical reasoning more costly to AD subjects in comparison to other groups of normal aging. We designed a 3x3 experiment in which subjects (AD and control group) were presented with primes of cognitive domains (words, pictures, and ideograms as control) followed by a choice task of metaphorical, literal, and abstract sentences in order to measure time spent to understand sentences in each condition, and frequency of each choice. Our hypothesis is that when the subject is primed with visual rather than linguistic input of a domain, s/he understands more readily and more accurately the metaphorical/inferential content of a linguistic expression, even though literal understanding frequency keeps higher.


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