Names and identification: An access problem

Carlo Semenza, Marina Zettin, Francesca Borgo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This is a report about a patient, CB, who, as a result of brain damage, could not access semantic information about individuals unless given their names, which, however, he could not produce. It is proposed that CB's previously unreported pattern of symptoms results from multiple functional disconnections isolating the collection of identity-specific semantic information from: (1) the corresponding phonological form, hence proper name anomia; (2) face recognition units, preventing faces being named and matched to semantic information; (3) general semantics, preventing the elements of a definition referring to an individual eliciting further individual specific information. The case is discussed together with similar cases and relevant theories that recently appeared in the literature. The peculiar role of persons' proper names in the semantic system is highlighted. Unlike common names, which denote categories, proper names are thought to just label unique sets of casually clustered attributes constituting a person's identity-specific semantics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-52
Number of pages8
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Psychology(all)


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