Semantic category dissociations: A longitudinal study of two cases

Marcella Laiacona, Erminio Capitani, Riccardo Barbarotto

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We report the neuropsychological findings of two patients (LF and EA) with herpes simplex encephalitis. Both patients presented a greater deficit for living than non-living categories in a number of tasks, although EA was much more impaired than LF. We controlled the several stimulus variables that might affect the performance and could demonstrate that the dissociation was not artifactual. Neither LF nor EA revealed a selective or preferential involvement of perceptual semantic knowledge, and both showed a homogeneous impairment of perceptual and associative encyclopaedic notions. At a second examination, carried out from 1 to 2 years later, LF showed a good recovery, whereas EA's improvement was confined to the non-living categories. The lesion of both patients affected the left temporal pole and the basal neocortical regions of the left temporal lobe. The involvement of limbic areas was more marked in LF, while the Wernicke area and the posterior parts of the middle and inferior temporal gyri were only involved in EA. Besides the basal temporal areas, also the posterior temporal regions are likely to play a role in determining the clinical picture of such patients, and their prospect of recovery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)441-461
Number of pages21
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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