Semin Speech Lang 2008; 29(1): 060-070
DOI: 10.1055/s-2008-1061625
© Thieme Medical Publishers

Treatment for Anomia in Semantic Dementia

Maya L. Henry1 , Pélagie M. Beeson1 , 2 , Steven Z. Rapcsak2 , 3
  • 1Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona
  • 2Department of Neurology, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona
  • 3Neurology Section, Southern Arizona VA Health Care System, Tucson, Arizona
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
28 April 2008 (online)


Anomia is a striking and consistent clinical feature of semantic dementia (SD), a progressive aphasia syndrome associated with focal cortical atrophy of the anterior temporal lobes. Word retrieval deficits in patients with SD have been attributed to the loss of conceptual knowledge, resulting in an impairment referred to as semantic anomia. Whereas an abundance of research has been dedicated to treatment for anomia in individuals with focal brain damage due to stroke, considerably less work has been done regarding treatment for patients with progressive language decline. The purpose of this article is to review the available literature concerning the nature and treatment of anomia in individuals with SD. Several studies have shown that new lexical learning remains possible in these patients. However, newly learned information is likely to be constrained by the learning context, and increased reliance on perceptual and autobiographical contextual information may be necessary to provide critical support for new vocabulary acquisition. There is also evidence suggesting that treatment may slow the progression of anomia over time, even affording some protective benefit to lexical items that are not yet lost. However, treatment efforts are likely to be most beneficial at early stages of the disease, when residual semantic knowledge as well as relatively spared episodic memory may support new learning.


Maya L Henry

Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson

P.O. Box 210071, 1131 E. 2nd Street, Tucson, AZ 85721-0071

Email: [email protected]