Different patterns of famous people recognition disorders in patients with right and left anterior temporal lesions: a systematic review

Neuropsychologia. 2007 Apr 9;45(8):1591-607. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2006.12.013. Epub 2007 Jan 7.


Selective disorders in recognition of familiar people have been described in patients with right and left anterior temporal lesions, but the exact nature of these cognitive impairments remains controversial. A clarification of this issue could have theoretical implications, because, according to Snowden et al. [Snowden, J. S., Thompson, J. C., & Neary, D. (2004). Knowledge of famous faces and names in semantic dementia. Brain, 127, 860-872], the pattern of impairment shown by patients with right and left anterior temporal atrophy is inconsistent with unitary, abstract, amodal models of semantic memory. This pattern could, on the contrary suggest a multimodal network, in which the right and left temporal lobes would mainly process and store visual and, respectively, verbal information. I tried to clarify this issue by systematically reviewing: (a) all published individual cases of patients showing a prevalent damage of the anterior parts of the right or left temporal lobes and a selective disorder of famous people recognition; (b) all group studies of patients with right or left temporal lobe epilepsy, which had investigated aspects of famous people recognition impairment. Results of these reviews consistently showed that different patterns of impaired recognition of familiar people can be observed in patients with right and left anterior temporal pathology. These patterns consist of a loss of familiarity feelings and of person specific information retrieval from face stimuli, when the right temporal lobe is damaged and of a prevalent impairment in finding their names when the anterior parts of the left temporal lobe are selectively damaged.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain Injuries / complications*
  • Brain Injuries / pathology*
  • Famous Persons*
  • Functional Laterality / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Memory Disorders / etiology*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology
  • Recognition, Psychology / physiology
  • Temporal Lobe / pathology*