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Neurocase. 2002;8(6):466-79.

A longitudinal study of category-specific agnosia.

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Neurosciences Research Institute, Aston University, Birmingham, UK.


We report a 12-year longitudinal case study on a 60-year-old male patient (DW) with category-specific agnosia. The extent to which DW's impairment has changed over time was evaluated using identical tests at time 1 (1988) and time 2 (2000). In particular, we assessed his ability to identify pictures and real objects, to draw from memory, and to access stored semantic information about living and non-living things. The principal findings were: (i). DW was significantly better at identifying real objects in comparison with line drawings. (ii). DW presented with a category-specific impairment for living things that remained consistent over the 12-year period. (iii). He significantly improved in his ability to identify real non-living objects over the 12-year period but real living objects remained at floor. (iv). His ability to access stored visual knowledge declined over time. On the basis of these data, we suggest that visual perception is required to maintain intact visual memories over a period of time. We also suggest that integrative visual agnosia co-occurs with a category-specific impairment for living things because the recognition of these items requires more global processing than for non-living things. In addition, we suggest that degradation to stored visual knowledge can cause category-specific naming impairments for living compared with non-living things because naming living things requires access to more detailed visual knowledge.

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