ACCESSING SEMANTIC INFORMATION AND NAMES
Failures to retrieve familiar personal names are among the frequently reported everyday memory errors. Failures to correctly retrieve semantic information (e.g. occupation, place of living, etc.) for familiar people are relatively less frequent. In particular, situations in which a familiar face can be successfully named even though no semantic information can be accessed appear to be extremely rare or nonexistent. In the model of face recognition by Bruce and Young (1986), it was proposed that the access to semantic information and names of familiar people occurs in a sequential manner, such that the access of semantic information is mandatory before a name can be retrieved. In the context of this topic, we collected experimental data as well as electrophysiological evidence which have been challenging this view to some extent, and which has been interpreted to suggest that the access to semantic information and names occurs in a parallel fashion, involving different brain systems. Another controversy has been about whether semantic information for people is organized in a categorical (i.e., driven by semantic category membership) or purely associative (i.e., driven by co-occurrence) manner. Recent data from the lab have provided evidence that both category membership and co-occurrence of people contribute independently to semantic person memory.