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Case Reports
. 1996 Jun;53(3):326-50.
doi: 10.1006/brln.1996.0052.

Proper Name Hypermnesia in an Autistic Subject

Case Reports

Proper Name Hypermnesia in an Autistic Subject

L Mottron et al. Brain Lang. .


The case study of an autistic "savant" subject with person names hypermnesia is presented. NM's performance in memorizing person names is compared to that of normal controls, IQ-matched controls, and one overtrained control. The data show a selective hypermnesia for both the free recall of person names and the recognition of faces. Recall of common names and of biographical informations linked to faces is unremarkable. NM's hypermnesia is restricted to list learning as low performance is observed in face-name learning tasks. A comparison of the data with that of the overtrained control indicates that training is not responsible for NM's pattern of results. These findings, when combined with previous results involving proper names, demonstrate a double dissociation between proper names and other types of semantic and referential information. However, aspects of NM's performance pattern are more compatible with a network model of proper names than with a sequential model. We propose that the contextual regularity of proper names in ecological situations can be responsible for their high memorization by NM.

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