Category specific dysnomia after thalamic infarction: a case-control study

Neuropsychologia. 2005;43(9):1385-90. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2004.12.001. Epub 2005 Feb 5.


Category specific naming impairment was described mainly after cortical lesions. It is thought to result from a lesion in a specific network, reflecting the organization of our semantic knowledge. The deficit usually involves multiple semantic categories whose profile of naming deficit generally obeys the animate/inanimate dichotomy. Thalamic lesions cause general semantic naming deficit, and only rarely a category specific semantic deficit for very limited and highly specific categories. We performed a case-control study on a 56-year-old right-handed man who presented with language impairment following a left anterior thalamic infarction. His naming ability and semantic knowledge were evaluated in the visual, tactile and auditory modalities for stimuli from 11 different categories, and compared to that of five controls. In naming to visual stimuli the patient performed poorly (error rate>50%) in four categories: vegetables, toys, animals and body parts (average 70.31+/-15%). In each category there was a different dominating error type. He performed better in the other seven categories (tools, clothes, transportation, fruits, electric, furniture, kitchen utensils), averaging 14.28+/-9% errors. Further analysis revealed a dichotomy between naming in animate and inanimate categories in the visual and tactile modalities but not in response to auditory stimuli. Thus, a unique category specific profile of response and naming errors to visual and tactile, but not auditory stimuli was found after a left anterior thalamic infarction. This might reflect the role of the thalamus not only as a relay station but further as a central integrator of different stages of perceptual and semantic processing.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation / methods
  • Anomia / etiology*
  • Anomia / pathology
  • Brain Infarction / complications*
  • Brain Infarction / pathology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology*
  • Concept Formation / physiology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests / statistics & numerical data
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual
  • Semantics
  • Thalamus / pathology*
  • Verbal Behavior / physiology*