Send to

Choose Destination
Neuropsychologia. 2015 Apr;70:296-308. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2015.01.010. Epub 2015 Jan 28.

Semantic impairment disrupts perception, memory, and naming of secondary but not primary colours.

Author information

Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 524 WJ Brogden Hall, 1202W Johnson Street, Madison, WI 53706, USA. Electronic address:
Wales Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, School of Psychology, Cardiff University, Tower Building, 70 Park Place, Cardiff CF10 3AT, UK.
University of Cambridge, Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Neurology Unit, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge CB2 0SZ, UK; MRC Cognition and Brain Science Unit, 15 Chaucer Road, Cambridge CB2 7EF, UK.


To investigate how basic aspects of perception are shaped by acquired knowledge about the world, we assessed colour perception and cognition in patients with semantic dementia (SD), a disorder that progressively erodes conceptual knowledge. We observed a previously undocumented pattern of impairment to colour perception and cognition characterized by: (i) a normal ability to discriminate between only subtly different colours but an impaired ability to group different colours into categories, (ii) normal perception and memory for the colours red, green, and blue but impaired perception and memory for colours lying between these regions of a fully-saturated and luminant spectrum, and (iii) normal naming of polar colours in the opponent-process colour system (red, green, blue, yellow, white, and black) but impaired naming of other basic colours (brown, gray, pink, and orange). The results suggest that fundamental aspects of perception can be shaped by acquired knowledge about the world, but only within limits.


Colour perception; Dementia; Semantics

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center