Selective impairment of living things and musical instruments on a verbal 'Semantic Knowledge Questionnaire' in a case of apperceptive visual agnosia

Carlo Masullo, Chiara Piccininni, Davide Quaranta, Maria Gabriella Vita, Simona Gaudino, Guido Gainotti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Semantic memory was investigated in a patient (MR) affected by a severe apperceptive visual agnosia, due to an ischemic cerebral lesion, bilaterally affecting the infero-mesial parts of the temporo-occipital cortices. The study was made by means of a Semantic Knowledge Questionnaire (Laiacona, Barbarotto, Trivelli, & Capitani, 1993), which takes separately into account four categories of living beings (animals, fruits, vegetables and body parts) and of artefacts (furniture, tools, vehicles and musical instruments), does not require a visual analysis and allows to distinguish errors concerning super-ordinate categorization, perceptual features and functional/encyclopedic knowledge. When the total number of errors obtained on all the categories of living and non-living beings was considered, a non-significant trend toward a higher number of errors in living stimuli was observed. This difference, however, became significant when body parts and musical instruments were excluded from the analysis. Furthermore, the number of errors obtained on the musical instruments was similar to that obtained on the living categories of animals, fruits and vegetables and significantly higher of that obtained in the other artefact categories. This difference was still significant when familiarity, frequency of use and prototypicality of each stimulus entered into a logistic regression analysis. On the other hand, a separate analysis of errors obtained on questions exploring super-ordinate categorization, perceptual features and functional/encyclopedic attributes showed that the differences between living and non-living stimuli and between musical instruments and other artefact categories were mainly due to errors obtained on questions exploring perceptual features.All these data are at variance with the 'domains of knowledge' hypothesis', which assumes that the breakdown of different categories of living and non-living things respects the distinction between biological entities and artefacts and support the models assuming that 'category-specific semantic disorders' are the by-product of the differential weighting that visual-perceptual and functional (or action-related) attributes have in the construction of different biological and artefacts categories.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-159
Number of pages5
JournalBrain and Cognition
Volume80
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012

Keywords

  • 'Innate' and 'experience-dependent' models of semantic categories
  • Biological entities
  • Category-specific semantic disorders
  • Musical instruments

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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