Numerous studies have shown that surgical resection of the left anterior temporal lobe (ATL) is associated with a decline in object naming ability (Hermann et al., 1999). In contrast, few studies have examined the effects of left ATL surgery on auditory description naming (ADN) or category-specific naming. Compared with object naming, which loads heavily on visual recognition processes, ADN provides a more specific measure of concept retrieval. The present study examined ADN declines in a large group of patients who were tested before and after left ATL surgery, using a 2 × 2 × 2 factorial manipulation of uniqueness (common vs. proper nouns), taxonomic category (living vs. nonliving things), and time (pre- vs. postsurgery). Significant declines occurred across all categories but were substantially larger for proper living (PL) concepts, i.e., famous individuals. The disproportionate decline in PL noun naming relative to other conditions is consistent with the notion that the left ATL is specialized not only for retrieval of unique entity concepts, but also plays a role in processing social concepts and person-specific features.
Keywords: Auditory description naming; Category and uniqueness effects; Language outcome; Proper noun naming; Temporal lobectomy.
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