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The Neuropsychology of Proper Names

Authors


Department of Neuroscience, University of Padova, via Giustiniani 5, 35128, Padova, Italy.
Email:carlo.semenza@unipd.it

Abstract:

The difference between common and proper names seems to derive from specific semantic characteristics of proper names. In particular, proper names refer to specific individual entities or events, and unlike common names, rarely map onto more general semantic characteristics (attributes, concepts, categories). This fact makes the link proper names have with their reference particularly fragile. Processing proper names seems, as a consequence, to require special cognitive and neural resources. Neuropsychological findings show that proper names and common names follow functionally distinct processing pathways. These pathways are neurally distinct and differently sensitive to focal or generalized brain damage, cognitive changes with age or lack of organic resources. Their precise location, depending on specific tasks, is still partly unknown.

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