The nature of the disorder underlying the inability to retrieve proper names

M. C. Saetti, P. Marangolo, E. De Renzi, M. C. Rinaldi, E. Lattanzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Two patients with the syndrome of proper name anomia were investigated. Both patients were only able to produce around 50% of the names of contemporary celebrities, but performed significantly better on a task calling for naming of historical figures. The names of relatives and friends were spared in one patient, while the other retrieved names of people known since childhood much better than those of people familiar to him since the age of 25. Geographical names, names of monuments and masterpieces were preserved. The above dissociations are taken to imply that in moderately impaired patients, a temporal gradient effect concurs to modulate the severity of the naming block. A similar impairment was found in both patients when they attempted to retrieve or relearn familiar telephone numbers. This finding suggests that the core of the disorder resides in the inability to gain access to words used to identify a single entity, regardless of whether they belong to the class of proper or common names.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)675-685
Number of pages11
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1999


  • Anomia
  • Proper names

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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