The organization of conceptual knowledge: the evidence from category-specific semantic deficits

Trends Cogn Sci. 2003 Aug;7(8):354-361. doi: 10.1016/s1364-6613(03)00159-1.


Questions about the organization of conceptual knowledge in the human brain can be addressed by studying patients with category-specific semantic deficits: disproportionate and even selective impairment of conceptual knowledge of one category of objects compared with other categories. Recently, consensus has emerged regarding the basic facts of category-specific semantic deficits: (1) the categories that can be disproportionately impaired or spared are 'animals', 'fruit/vegetables', and 'artifacts'; and (2) category-specific semantic deficits are not associated with disproportionate deficits for a type or modality of knowledge. Together with findings in functional neuroimaging, these data indicate a complex organization of conceptual knowledge characterized by several independent dimensions of organization.