Dementia can drain words of meaning

Updated: Jul 27, 2012, 23:42 PM IST

Sydney: Dementia can impair one`s ability to recognise words describing feelings such as `thrilled` and `annoyed`, according to the latest research.

Sharpley Hsieh and colleagues from Neuroscience Research Australia (NRA) explored how people with different types of dementia comprehend words describing sentiments such as `doubt` and `hopeful`.

"People use emotion words in everyday conversation and don`t realise it. How often do we use sentences such as `I`m frustrated` or `she`s impressed`? These are key words and you have to know them to understand a sentence," Sharpley was quoted as saying in the journal, Neuropsychology.

"Losing the concept of a toaster, for example, will impact upon a person`s quality of life, but the prevalence of words used to communicate feelings and emotion in our language must make the lack of understanding of these words so devastating for patients and their carers," Sharpley said, according to a university statement.

Sharpley found that people with Alzheimer`s disease are still able to understand these kinds of words, but people with other types of dementia are not. People suffering from semantic dementia - the second most common in people under 65 - experience a severe loss of word and conceptual knowledge.

"You can easily show a picture of a car to test this word, or a smiling face to show happiness. But feelings such as frustration or embarrassment are difficult to depict and so until now we haven`t been able to look at whether these concepts are lost in people with different dementias," Sharpley added.`