evidence for a modality-specific meaning systems in the brain?

dag.stenberg at helsinki.nospam.fi dag.stenberg at helsinki.nospam.fi
Fri Feb 25 09:33:52 EST 2000

Marie <toshrimpNOtoSPAM at hotmail.com.invalid> wrote:
> TOB a individual with a degradation deficits, does not only
> refute the notion of an "all purpose" meaning store, but also
> provides evidence for multiple meaning representationa as
> suggeseted by McCarthy and Warrington (1988).  ARe these claims
> really supported by thorugh evidence>>?  WHat methods could be
> used to test these??

> ... I just hoped that somebody out there had some nice
> ideas of information about this, that I do not have.

The problem may be extremely fuzzily described, but at least I
understand that I am not knowledgeable about "all purpose meaning store"
and "degradation deficits". 

It becomes clear when looking at the abstract of McCarthy and Warrington 1988:
Nature 1988 Aug 4;334(6181):428-30 
Evidence for modality-specific meaning systems in the brain.
McCarthy RA, Warrington EK
National Hospital for Nervous Diseases, Queen Square, London, UK. 

Patients with cerebral lesions offer a unique opportunity to investigate
the organization of meaning systems in the brain. Clinical neurologists 
have long been aware that knowledge of particular classes or categories 
of information may be selectively impaired in some cases and selectively
spared in others. For example knowledge of letters, colours, objects, 
or people may be lost as a consequence of damage to the left hemisphere 
of the brain. Recently there has been quantitative evidence for even
more specific impairment and preservation of particular classes of knowledge.
More recently the evidence for knowledge of living things as compared 
with inanimate objects is particularly striking. Such observations have 
suggested that our semantic knowledge base is categorical in its 
organization. In this preliminary report, we describe a patient whose 
semantic knowledge deficit was not only category specific, but also 
modality specific. Although his knowledge of the visual world was almost
entirely normal, his knowledge of living things (but not objects!) was 
gravely impaired when assessed in the verbal domain. These findings 
call into question the widely accepted view that the brain has a single 
all-purpose meaning store. 

  I suppose that if some reader has knowledge, they will eventually
enter the discussion.

Dag Stenberg

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