Operatively and animacy effects in aphasic naming

D. Howard*, W. Best, C. Bruce, C. Gatehouse

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


This paper investigates the extent to which operatively and animacy affect naming accuracy in 18 aphasic patients. Both operatively 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 operatively 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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)286-302
Number of pages17
JournalEuropean Journal of Disorders of Communication
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • Animacy
  • Aphasic naming
  • Operativity


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