Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology

Living Edition
| Editors: Jeffrey Kreutzer, John DeLuca, Bruce Caplan

Visual Agnosia

  • Giulia RighiEmail author
  • Michael J. Tarr
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-56782-2_1410-2

Short Description or Definition

Visual agnosia is a neurological deficit that results in impairments in the perception and recognition of complex visual stimuli such as common objects or faces, while low-level visual processes and the memory systems remain intact. The primary cause of these deficits is damage in the lateral part of the occipital lobes and/or in the ventral portion of the temporal lobes.


Visual agnosias can be divided into two main types: apperceptive visual agnosias and associative visual agnosias. This distinction was first put forth by Lissauer (1980), who suggested a pathological difference between (1) the inability to correctly perceive an object as a coherent whole because of perceptual deficits and (2) the inability to ascribe meaning to an object despite an accurate perception of that object because of deficits in accessing the stored object representations. He dubbed the former as “apperceptive” and the latter as “associative.”


This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References and Readings

  1. De Renzi, E., & di Pellegrino, G. (1998). Prosopagnosia and alexia without object agnosia. Cortex, 34, 403–415.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Farah, M. J. (1990). Visual agnosia. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  3. Farah, M. J. (2004). Visual agnosia (2nd ed.). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  4. Farah, M. J., & Feinberg, T. E. (2006). Visual object agnosia. In M. J. Farah & T. E. Feinberg (Eds.), Patient-based approaches to cognitive neuroscience. Cambridge, MA: MIT press.Google Scholar
  5. Ghadiali, E. (2004). Agnosia. Advances in Clinical Neuroscience and Rehabilitation, 4, 18–20.Google Scholar
  6. Howard, D., & Patterson, K. (1992). The pyramids and palm trees test. Bury St Edmunds: Thames Valley Test Company.Google Scholar
  7. Lissauer, H. (1980). Ein Fall von Seelenblindheit nebst einem beitrage zue Theorie derselben. Archiv für Psychiatrie und Nervenkrankheiten, 21, 22–270.Google Scholar
  8. McKenna, P. (1997). The category-specific names test. Hove: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
  9. Michael, F., & Henaff, M. A. (2004). Seeing without the occipito-parietal cortex: Simultagnosia as a shrinkage of the attentional visual field. Behavioural Neurology, 15, 3–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Mulder, J. L., Bouma, A., & Ansink, B. I. J. (1995). The role of visual discrimination disorders and neglect in the perceptual categorization deficits in right and left hemisphere damage patients. Cortex, 31, 487–501.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Riddoch, M. J., & Humphreys, G. W. (1993). Birmingham Object Recognition Battery (BORB). Hove: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  12. Riddoch, M. J., & Humphreys, G. W. (2003). Visual agnosia. Neurologic Clinics of North America, 21, 501–520.Google Scholar
  13. Warrington, E. K. (1984). Recognition memory test. Windsor: NFER-Nelson.Google Scholar
  14. Warrington, E. K., & James, M. (1991). Visual Object and Space Perception battery (VOSP). Bury St Edmunds: Thames Valley Test Company.Google Scholar
  15. Warrington, E. K., & Shallice, T. (1984). Category-specific semantic impairments. Brain, 107, 829–854.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Visual Neuroscience LaboratoryBrown UniversityProvidenceUSA