Brain damage and semantic category dissociations: Is the animals category easier for males?

Stefania Scotti, Marcella Laiacona, Erminio Capitani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Semantic dissociations show that biological stimuli present a further dissociation between animals and plant life. Almost all cases of greater impairment of plant life knowledge were males, suggesting a higher male familiarity with animals possibly derived from different daily activities. To verify this hypothesis, we collected familiarity ratings for normal males and females, for 288 animals, subdivided according to whether they were hunted/fished, or were used as food. The overall familiarity was almost identical between males and females. Males were more familiar with hunted animals, but for them also food animals were more familiar. There was not a consistent effect of hunting/fishing independently of the food/not food classification. The claim that males are generally more proficient with animals knowledge because most hunters/fishers are males seems rather simplistic, and the familiarity structure of the animals category is more complex. An evolution-based account is suggested for the category by sex interaction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)483-489
Number of pages7
JournalNeurological Sciences
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2010


  • Animal knowledge
  • Animals familiarity ratings
  • Semantic category dissociations
  • Sex asymmetry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Dermatology
  • Medicine(all)


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