The breakdown of semantic knowledge: Insights from a statistical model of meaning representation

David P. Vinson, Gabriella Vigliocco, Stefano Cappa, Simona Siri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Investigations of patients with semantic category-specific deficits have revealed a wide range of performance and variability in categories that are impaired or spared; this variability presents a challenge to accounts of category specificity. Accounts based only on impairment to semantic features of a particular type (e.g., visual), as well as accounts based only on featural properties (e.g., feature intercorrelations), are insufficient to explain the variability of patients' performance. A first goal of the paper is to discuss how a hybrid account incorporating both a level of organization according to feature types (a level of nonlinguistic conceptual representations) and a level of organization dictated by featural properties may provide a more comprehensive account of the cases reported in the literature. The second and most novel goal of the study reported here is to derive from our hybrid account a series of novel predictions concerning the representation and impairment of a different domain of knowledge: knowledge of actions and events, a domain of knowledge that has received remarkably little attention to date.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)347-365
Number of pages19
JournalBrain and Language
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2003


  • Category-specificity
  • Nouns
  • Semantics
  • Simulation
  • Verbs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


Dive into the research topics of 'The breakdown of semantic knowledge: Insights from a statistical model of meaning representation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this