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J Clin Exp Neuropsychol. 2009 Oct;31(7):769-89. doi: 10.1080/13803390802502606. Epub 2009 Jan 14.

Visual cognition in amnesic H.M.: selective deficits on the What's-Wrong-Here and Hidden-Figure tasks.

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Psychology Dept., University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1563, USA.


Two experiments compared the visual cognition performance of amnesic H.M. and memory-normal controls matched for age, background, intelligence, and education. In Experiment 1 H.M. exhibited deficits relative to the controls in detecting "erroneous objects" in complex visual scenes--for example, a bird flying inside a fishbowl. In Experiment 2 H.M. exhibited deficits relative to the controls in standard Hidden-Figure tasks when detecting unfamiliar targets but not when detecting familiar targets--for example, circles, squares, and right-angle triangles. H.M.'s visual cognition deficits were not due to his well-known problems in explicit learning and recall, inability to comprehend or remember the instructions, general slowness, motoric difficulties, low motivation, low IQ relative to the controls, or working-memory limitations. Parallels between H.M.'s selective deficits in visual cognition, language, and memory are discussed. These parallels contradict the standard "systems theory" account of H.M.'s condition but comport with the hypothesis that H.M. has difficulty representing unfamiliar but not familiar information in visual cognition, language, and memory. Implications of our results are discussed for binding theory and the ongoing debate over what counts as "memory" versus "not-memory."

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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