The Cognitive Psychology of Proper Names: On the Importance of Being Ernest

The Cognitive Psychology of Proper Names: On the Importance of Being Ernest

The Cognitive Psychology of Proper Names: On the Importance of Being Ernest

The Cognitive Psychology of Proper Names: On the Importance of Being Ernest

Synopsis

Using an information processing approach, Valentine, Brennen and Bredart consider evidence from speech production, face recognition and word recognition to develop a new functional model of the production and recognition of people's names.

Excerpt

Proper names form a linguistic class that is of considerable practical and theoretical importance. The failure to recall a person’s name at the right moment can be embarrassing and inconvenient and yet it is a common difficulty observed in our everyday lives. Despite the social significance of proper names, and in particular people’s names, cognitive psychologists have shown little interest in developing a cognitive psychology of proper names until very recently. However, some fascinating data on proper names have been reported in the last few years. Proper names are the linguistic category most likely to provoke retrieval difficulties in normal healthy adults, and for some brain-injured patients proper name recall is their only linguistic problem. Why should this be? We believe that the attempt to answer such questions will reveal much of practical significance on memory for proper names and will also prove a powerful approach to develop our understanding of human cognition.

The aim of this book is to draw together a wide range of evidence which bears on the cognitive processes involved in recognising and recalling proper names. Our work has been guided by the literature on familiar face processing. This literature emphasises the special status of people’s names in comparison to other information we know about them. The status of proper names is an issue which we consider from a number of different perspectives. Our aim is to make the issues as accessible as possible to readers without specialist knowledge of cognitive psychology.

We begin with a multi-disciplinary look at proper names, and then focus on information processing models of proper names. Throughout the book we present theories of proper name processing in the form of box-and-arrow models. We believe that such paper-and-pencil modelling is, and will remain, a useful way of structuring ways of thinking about cognitive processes and of generating empirical predictions.

In this paragraph, we wish to clarify what we intend to imply by drawing such box and arrow models. Our comments are addressed primarily to some cognitive psychologists who may consider this approach to be rather old-fashioned. This discussion might appear technical to readers . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.