Semantic knowledge and episodic memory for faces in semantic dementia

Simons, J.S., Graham, K.S., Galton, C.J., Patterson, K., & Hodges, J.R. (2001). Neuropsychology, 15, 101-114.

Previous studies have documented poor recognition memory for faces in patients with semantic dementia. Preserved face recognition memory was found in this study, however, so long as atrophy was confined predominantly to the left temporal lobe. Patients with structural damage to the right temporal lobe were typically impaired, with the status of the hippocampus and parahippocampal gyrus (including the perirhinal cortex) on the right being critical. Two single-case studies of patients with predominantly left temporal lobe pathology confirmed good recognition memory for famous faces, even if semantic knowledge about the celebrities depicted was severely degraded. An effect of semantic knowledge on recognition memory became apparent only when perceptually different photographs of the famous people were used at study and test. These results support the view that new episodic learning typically draws on information from both perceptual and semantic systems.