Activities and Seminars

Carlo Semenza, University of Padua, Italy
Date: Jun 03, 2011

What: The Neuropsychology of Nominal Classes

What: The Neuropsychology of Nominal Classes

When: Friday, June 3rd, 11:00 am

Who: Carlo Semenza , University of Padua, Italy

Where: BCBL, Paseo Mikeletegi 69, Floor 2.


‘This talk will focus on the contrast between common and proper names and between count and mass nouns. The difference between common and proper names seems to derive from specific semantic characteristics of proper names. In particular, proper names refer to specific individual entities or events, and unlike common names, rarely map onto more general semantic characteristics (attributes, concepts, categories). This fact makes the link proper names have with their reference particularly fragile. Processing proper names seems, as a consequence, to require special cognitive and neural resources. Neuropsychological findings show that proper names and common names follow functionally distinct processing pathways. These pathways are neurally distinct and differently sensitive to focal or generalized brain damage, cognitive changes with age and lack of organic resources. Their precise location, depending on specific tasks, is still partly unknown. Little was known in neuropsychology about the mass/count distinction until about a decade ago. A number of studies have been made since, showing some important differences between the two categories in the performance of brain damaged people in a variety of tasks. These findings seem to suggest that, indeed, count and mass nouns enjoy category specific processing at the lexical, morphological, syntactic and semantic level.’