Analysis of the semantic representations of living and nonliving concepts: A normative study

Gian Daniele Zannino, Roberta Perri, Patrizio Pasqualetti, Carlo Caltagirone, Giovanni A. Carlesimo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Current feature-based semantic memory models assume that the semantic representations of concepts differ systematically across living and nonliving categories and that such differences account for the emergence of category-specific semantic deficits in brain-damaged people. To assess some of the different models' main assumptions about structural differences at the semantic feature level in the two major semantic domains, we administrated a feature-listing task to normal young volunteers on 64 concepts drawn from living and nonliving semantic categories. We investigated whether feature correlation, a variable with a crucial role in the emergence of category-specific deficits, should be computed as a concept-dependent or as a concept-independent measure, and we chose the former. We also addressed the issue of a psychological counterpart of feature production frequency. Finally, we analysed the database obtained from the feature-listing tasks, looked at cross-domain differences for correlation, feature frequency, distinctiveness, and feature type, and discussed the implications of these findings for current semantic memory models.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)515-540
Number of pages26
JournalCognitive Neuropsychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Psychology(all)
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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