Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Short Communication

The sensory/functional assumption or the data: Which do we keep?

Bradford Mahon a1 and Alfonso Caramazza a1
a1 Department of Psychology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138 [email protected] [email protected]


The HIT model explains the existence of semantic category-specific deficits by assuming that sensory knowledge is crucially important in processing living things, while functional knowledge is crucially important in processing nonliving things – the sensory/functional assumption. Here we argue that the sensory/functional assumption as implemented in HIT is neither theoretically nor empirically grounded and that, in any case, there is neuropsychological evidence which invalidates this assumption, thereby undermining the HIT model as a whole.