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Dictionary of Common Terms

Anosognosia: This is the inability to gain feedback about one’s own condition and can be confused with lack of insight but is caused by problems in the feedback mechanisms in the brain. It is caused by neurological damage and can occur in connection with a range of neurological impairments but is most commonly referred to in cases of paralysis following stroke. Those with Anosognosia with multiple impairments may even be aware of some of their impairments but completely unable to perceive others.

Apperceptive visual agnosia: unable to distinguish visual shapes, trouble recognizing, copying, or discriminating between different visual stimuli, unable to copy images.

Associative visual agnosia: can describe visual scenes and classes of objects but still fail to recognize them. Example, know that a fork is something you eat with but may mistake it for a spoon. Patients suffering from associative agnosia are still able to reproduce an image through copying.

Auditory agnosia: difficulty distinguishing environmental and non-verbal auditory cues including difficulty distinguishing speech from non-speech sounds even though hearing is usually normal.

Auditory verbal agnosia: AKA Pure Word Deafness (PWD): Hearing is intact but significant difficulty recognizing spoken words as semantically meaningful.

Autotopagnosia: inability to orient parts of the body

Cerebral achromatopsia: AKA Color agnosia difficulty categorizing and recognizing colors.

Constructional apraxia: inability or difficulty to build, assemble, or draw objects. Apraxia is a neurological disorder in which people are unable to perform tasks or movements even though they understand the task, are willing to complete it, and have the physical ability to perform the movements.

Cortical deafness: do not perceive any auditory information but whose hearing is intact.


Fluctuating changes in cognition over a very short period of time (hours to days) not accounted for by preexisting or evolving dementia.

  • Reduced clarity of awareness of the environment
  • Ability to focus, sustain or shift attention is impaired
  • Easily distracted by irrelevant stimuli
  • Difficult or impossible to engage person in conversation

Dysarthria: impaired ability to articulate

Dysnomia: impaired ability to name objects

Dysgraphia: impaired ability to write

Environmental Agnosia: inability to locate a specific room or building that one is familiar with, as well as the inability to provide directions for how to arrive at a particular location. Difficulty with learning routes.

Form agnosia: perceive only parts of details, not whole object.

Integrative agnosia: This is where one has the ability to recognize elements of something but yet be unable to integrate these elements together into comprehensible perceptual wholes.

Pain agnosia Also referred to as Analgesia, this is the difficulty perceiving and processing pain; thought to underpin some forms of self-injury.

Phonagnosia Is the inability to recognize familiar voices, even though the hearer can understand the words used

Prosopagnosia Also known as faceblindness and facial agnosia: Patients cannot consciously recognize familiar faces, sometimes even including their own. This is often misperceived as an inability to remember names.

Pure alexia: Inability to recognize text. Pure alexia involves not being able to read printed material, but these individuals still have the ability to write. Individuals with pure alexia usually read words letter by letter. However, individuals with pure alexia show a frequency effect. They are able to read high frequency words better and faster than they can read low frequency words.

Semantic agnosia: with this form of agnosia are effectively ‘object blind’ until they use non-visual sensory systems to recognize the object. For example, feeling, tapping, smelling, rocking or flicking the object, may trigger realization of its semantics (meaning).

Social-Emotional Agnosia: AKA Expressive Agnosia, unable to perceive facial expression, body language and intonation,rendering them unable to non-verbally perceive people’s emotions and limiting that aspect of social interaction.

Tactile agnosia: Impaired ability to recognize or identify objects by touch alone

Time agnosia: loss of comprehension of the succession and duration of events

Topographical disorientation: AKA Topographical agnosia or Topographagnosia, is a form of visual agnosia in which a person cannot rely on visual cues to guide them directionally due to the inability to recognize objects. Nevertheless, they may still have an excellent capacity to describe the visual layout of the same place. Patients with topographical agnosia have the ability to read maps, but become lost in familiar environments.

Visual agnosia: Many types of visual agnosia involve the inability to recognize objects.

Visuospatial dysgnosia: This is a loss of the sense of “whereness” in the relation of oneself to one’s environment and in the relation of objects to each other. It may include right-left confusion.