Revue de neuropsychologie


Assessment of semantic memory for famous people - SemPer Volume 1, issue 2, juin 2009


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Unité 923, Inserm-EPHE-Université de Caen/Basse-Normandie,Caen

Semantic memory contains not only generic information such as knowledge about objects and animals but also biographical knowledge about people. Semantic deficits are very relevant in early and differential diagnosis of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and semantic dementia. In this way, semantic evaluation and specially naming and identification of famous people seem particularly significant and sensitive. Various tests are available in clinical practice to perform a semantic evaluation, but most of them concern generic knowledge. On the basis of face recognition models, we built a battery of tests assessing familiarity of faces and names, semantic biographical knowledge and face naming of 16 famous people. For each people, matching tasks evaluate two types of biographical knowledge, a shared feature (the profession) and a more specific feature. To distinguish a central loss of knowledge from access difficulties, semantic matching tests use the same material proposed in two different forms: faces and names.