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Difficulty Recalling People's Names

     CM Fisher

Abstract:   Background: Difficulty recalling people's names is common in the adult population, especially in the elderly. The subject is scarcely mentioned in the literature. An 82-year-old patient gave the history that for 33 years he had made prospective observations on his own difficulty with people's names. Method: Documentation and analysis of the patient's personal observations in which his ability to recall the names of friends, acquaintances, colleagues, public figures, movie stars and athletes is compared with that of his spouse. A suitable test-battery for the names of famous North American persons was not available. Results: The patient's capability in recalling people's names was clearly inferior to that of his spouse. The patient's intellect was otherwise intact and the impairment seemed to be isolated to the category of proper-naming. Doubts were raised about the patient's own conclusion that the deficit was progressive. Conclusions: A parallel may be drawn between benign difficulty recalling people's names and the acquired categorical deficit for proper naming reported in the literature in recent years. Based on Damasio's concept of anatomically compartmentalized sensory subsystems, it is hypothesized that our patient's symptom represents an innate limited capacity for proper naming.

Can. J. Neurol. Sci. 1997; 24: 58-61


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