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Europa Medicophysica 2002 June;38(2):97-105

Copyright © 2002 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English

Semantic memory deficits following Herpes Simplex Encephalitis (HSE). A single-case study

Zanini S., Borgo F., Vorano L., De Luca G.

From the Department of Physiology and Pathology, University of Trieste, Italy *Faculty of Psychology, University of Trieste, Italy **Rehabilitation Medicine Department Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Institute Udine, Italy


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Semantic mem­o­ry dis­or­ders fol­low­ing ­HSE ­are fre­quent­ly char­ac­ter­ised by ­the cat­e­go­ry spec­i­fic­ity ­effect, name­ly ­the liv­ing ­things ­domain ­more dis­rupt­ed ­then ­the ­non-liv­ing ­things ­one. Whether ­this is ­due to a cat­e­gor­i­cal organ­isa­tion of ­the seman­tic ­system or to a def­i­cit in pro­cess­ing ­basic infor­ma­tion nec­es­sary ­for ­item iden­tifi­ca­tion, is ­still ­under ­debate. We test­ed ­these ­two hypoth­e­ses. A sin­gle-­case ­study of ­HSE ­with cat­e­go­ry spec­i­fic­ity ­effect ­was under­tak­en. The ­patient ­was stud­ied ­six ­months ­post-­onset dur­ing reha­bil­i­ta­tion at ­the Clinical Neuropsychology Office of ­our Rehabilita-tion Unit. The ­patient ­was test­ed on sev­er­al ­tasks tap­ping seman­tic rep­re­sen­ta­tion of liv­ing ­thing, “mass” ­kind, ­and ­non-liv­ing ­thing ­domains. Besides clas­sic cat­e­go­ry spec­i­fic­ity impair­ment, ­the ­patient pre­sent­ed con­sis­tent def­i­cit in pro­cess­ing seman­tic fea­tures of ­items ­when sen­so­ry attrib­utes ­were pre­sent­ed com­pared to func­tion­al ­ones irre­spec­tive­ly of ­the ­item ­domain ­class (liv­ing, “­mass” ­kinds, or ­non-liv­ing ­things). These find­ings sug­gest ­that ­the cat­e­go­ry spec­i­fic­ity ­effect is ­not deter­mined by a cat­e­gor­i­cal def­i­cit with­in ­the seman­tic ­system ­but is rath­er ­due to impair­ment in pro­cess­ing sen­so­ry attrib­utes ­that under­pin seman­tic rep­re­sen­ta­tion. This pos­es ­the theo­ret­i­cal ­basis ­for cog­ni­tive reha­bil­i­ta­tion of seman­tic mem­o­ry def­i­cits fol­low­ing ­HSE.

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