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Cortex. 2002 Feb;38(1):23-35.

Anomia for common names and geographical names with preserved retrieval of names of people: a semantic memory disorder.

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Department of Psychology, University of Essex, Colchester, UK.


This paper describes the case of an anomic patient (FH) who is impaired at naming pictures of objects but has no difficulties in recalling the names of familiar people. Even though his performance on McKenna's (1997) Category Specific Naming Test was at the first percentile, he consistently recalled the names of familiar people as successfully as controls. It is argued that the pattern of performance displayed by FH represents a much clearer double dissociation with proper name anomia than any case previously reported (Cipolotti et al., 1993; Semenza and Sgaramella, 1993). FH is unable to provide detailed semantic information about many of the objects that he cannot name, even though he can recall semantic information about familiar people. Consequently his case appears to represent the mirror image of the proper name anomic patient (APA) described by Miceli et al. (2000) who was unable to recall detailed semantic information about many of the people she was unable to name. Further investigation of FH's anomia revealed impairments in retrieving both common nouns and verbs, and difficulties in retrieving and comprehending geographical names. It is argued that FH's preserved ability to name and recall biographical information about people supports the view that knowledge about familiar people may be subserved by its own dedicated neural subsystem (Kay and Hanley, 1999; Miceli et al., 2000; Gentileschi et al., 2001).

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