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We report a case series analysis of a group of seven patients with apparent "category-specific" disorders affecting living things. On standard diagnostic tests, a range of deficits were apparent, with some cases appearing to have impaired visual access to stored knowledge, some with impaired semantic knowledge (across modalities), and some with an impairment primarily at a name retrieval stage. Patients with a semantic deficit were impaired for both visual and associative/functional knowledge about living things, whilst patients with a modality-specific access deficit showed worse performance when stored visual knowledge was probed. In addition, patients with impaired access to visual knowledge were affected when perceptual input was degraded by masking, and all patients showed an interaction between perceptual similarity and category when matching pictures to names or defining statements. We discuss the results in terms of the Hierarchical Interactive Theory (HIT) of object recognition and naming (Humphreys & Forde, 2001). We also discuss evidence on lesion sites in relation to research from functional brain imaging on category differences in object identification in normal observers.

Original publication




Journal article


Cogn Neuropsychol

Publication Date





263 - 306