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Logo of behavneuroBehavioural Neurology
Behav Neurol. 2011; 24(4): 277–284.
Published online 2011 November 7. doi:  10.3233/BEN-2011-0338
PMCID: PMC5377950

Naming with Proper Names: The Left Temporal Pole Theory


Existing empirical data on proper names processing are critically reviewed in trying to understand which tasks may involve the left temporal pole, which proper name related functions are supported by this structure and eventually offer some speculations about why these functions might have developed in this location in the course of human evolution. While clinical group studies support the idea that proper name processing takes place in the left temporal pole, single case studies of selective proper name anomia or sparing, as well as neuroimaging studies, suggest the involvement of a larger neural network. Within this network, an important role may be played by the ventro-medial prefrontal cortex, including areas critical in social interaction. The differentiation in the brain of proper name processing from common names processing could in part be due to social pressure, favouring a neural system able to more efficiently and unambiguously sustain designating categories or designating individual entities. The activation of the left temporal pole in proper name processing is shown to increase with age. Longer social interaction may thus contribute to convey proper names processing toward areas closer to those supporting social cognition.

Keywords: Proper names, left temporal pole, social cognition, anomia

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