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Operativity and animacy effects in aphasic naming

Lookup NU author(s): Professor David Howard


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This paper investigates the extent to which operativity and animacy affect naming accuracy in 18 aphasic patients. Both operativity and animacy have significant effects on naming accuracy when confounding variables are not properly controlled. However, with sets of items matched for length, frequency, familiarity, imageability, concreteness and rated age-of-acquisition, only one subject showed a significant animacy effect (with better performance for animate items), and two subjects showed significant reversed operativity effects. The original definition of operativity included four elements: separability from the surrounding context, manipulability, firmness to the touch and availability to multiple senses. When the effects of these variables were investigated individually, it was found that, in general, patients are better at naming separable items, and those available to multiple senses but worse at naming manipulable items. It is concluded that operativity is not a single property but a set of variables with quite different effects. These results emphasise the need for proper control of confounding variables in studies of animacy and operativity. The findings provide only qualified support for theories of distributed semantic representation.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Howard D, Best W, Bruce C, Gatehouse C

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: European Journal of Disorders of Communication

Year: 1995

Volume: 30

Issue: 3

Pages: 286-302

ISSN (print): 0963-7273

ISSN (electronic): 1460-6984

Publisher: Informa Healthcare


DOI: 10.3109/13682829509021443


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