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Logo of behavneuroBehavioural Neurology
 
Behav Neurol. 2012; 25(1): 35–44.
Published online 2011 December 29. doi:  10.3233/BEN-2012-0347
PMCID: PMC5294234

Famous People Knowledge and the Right and Left Temporal Lobes

Abstract

It is generally accepted that the anterior temporal lobes support knowledge of famous people. The specific roles of the right and left temporal lobe remain a subject of debate, with some studies suggesting differential roles based on modality (visual versus verbal information) and others category (person knowledge versus general semantics). The present study re-examined performance of semantic dementia patients with predominantly right and predominantly left temporal lobe atrophy on famous face, famous name and general semantic tasks, with the specific aim of testing the hypothesis that the right temporal lobe has a privileged role for person knowledge and the left temporal lobe for general semantic knowledge. Comparisons of performance rankings across tasks showed no evidence to support this hypothesis. By contrast, there was robust evidence from naming, identification and familiarity measures for modality effects: right-sided atrophy being associated with relatively greater impairment for faces and visual tasks and left-sided atrophy for names and verbal tasks. A double dissociation in test scores in two patients reinforced these findings. The data present a challenge for the influential ‘semantic hub’ model, which views the anterior temporal lobes as an area of convergence in which semantic information is represented in amodal form.

Keywords: Semantic dementia, anterior temporal lobes, semantic hub, amodal, modality, person knowledge

Articles from Behavioural Neurology are provided here courtesy of Hindawi