Disorders of verbal and pictorial memory in right and left brain-damaged patients

Guido Gainotti, Antonella Cappa, Roberta Perri, Maria Caterina Silveri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It is still controversial whether verbal and pictorial stimuli are independently processed and stored in memory, as assumed by the dual code hypothesis, or a single code is used both for verbal and for pictorial stimuli, as assumed by the verbal loop hypothesis and by the propositional code hypothesis. According to the first hypothesis, verbal and pictorial memory are independently disrupted by brain damage, whereas according to the second hypothesis a co-occurrence of verbal and pictorial memory disorders are usually observed. To test these contrasting predictions, we constructed a verbal and a pictorial memory task very similar with respect to testing procedures and to material to be memorized and we administered them to 33 left and 27 right brain-damaged patients and to 21 normal controls. The following results were obtained: 1) Disorders of verbal and of pictorial memory were dissociated by brain injury in about one-third of our patients; 2) A consistent relationship was observed between laterality of lesion and type of selective memory impairment, since word recognition was selectively impaired by left and picture recognition by right brain injury; 3) However, only on the test of verbal memory was a significant difference between right and left brain-damaged patients obtained, whereas on the test of pictorial memory only a nonsignificant trend in the opposite direction was observed. These data are in favor of the dual code hypothesis and suggest that the links between left hemisphere and verbal code may be stronger than the relationship between right hemisphere and pictorial code.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-20
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Neuroscience
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 1994


  • Coding activity
  • Hemispheric specialization
  • Pictorial memory
  • Verbal memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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