Further lesion evidence for the neural basis of conceptual knowledge for persons and other concrete entities

J Neuropsychol. 2008 Mar;2(1):301-20. doi: 10.1348/174866407x227033.


The neural underpinnings of conceptual knowledge have been studied intensively, but many unanswered questions remain. In a previous study examining recognition of persons, animals, and tools in 116 participants with unilateral brain lesions, we found no instance of a patient who manifested defective recognition in all three categories. We reasoned that the spatial distribution of the lesion loci critical for the appearance of recognition defects for these different categories explained why this 'three-way' defect could not be found in patients with unilateral lesions, and we proposed that only a suitable bilateral lesion would be likely to produce such a combined defect. In the study reported here, we tested this hypothesis by investigating recognition performances in 55 participants with bilateral cortical lesions. In support of the hypothesis, nine patients, all of whose lesions included bilateral occipitotemporal and/or temporal cortices, had a three-way recognition impairment (persons, M = 18.3%; animals, M = 35.7%; tools, M = 71.3%; all scores >2 SDs below normal). As expected, bilateral lesions to other neural sectors, for example prefrontal cortices, did not lead to recognition impairments. These findings provide further support for the notion that retrieval of knowledge for concrete entities from different conceptual categories depends on partially segregated neural systems, located in different sectors of occipitotemporal and temporal regions in right and left hemisphere.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Brain / pathology
  • Brain Damage, Chronic / pathology
  • Brain Damage, Chronic / psychology*
  • Cognition Disorders / pathology
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology*
  • Face
  • Female
  • Form Perception / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology