Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name




First Advisor

Buchanan, L.


Psychology, Clinical.




The semantic category effect is a phenomenon of semantic memory revealing a category dissociation of biological and nonbiological objects on picture naming and other tasks of semantic memory. In patients with Alzheimer's Disease, category dissociation typically reflects a nonbiological advantage in that these patients are more proficient at naming artifacts over biological stimuli. In contrast, younger, healthy individuals appear to show the opposite pattern of performance in that they are generally more adept at naming biological items. Several diverse theories have been posited to explicate the possible basis of this phenomenon. A new hypothesis presented in this study proposed that the emotional content associated with various stimuli is mediated by the amygdala to influence semantic memory performance. The purpose of this study was to further investigate the semantic category effect in young, healthy participants, and concurrently, to explore the possible connection between emotion and semantic memory. Using a speeded picture naming task, vocal reaction times and emotional valence ratings for 45 items divided into four categories based on emotional valence rating (i.e., high and low) and semantic category (i.e., biological and nonbiological) were examined in thirty-six female university students. Analyses of the data indicated an "animate/inanimate" category dissociation favouring animate objects, in tandem with an intricate relationship between emotional valence and semantic memory performance. Notwithstanding the limitations of this study, the results provide evidence of a link between the subjective emotional content of objects and semantic memory for those objects. Implications of the findings and approaches for future research are also discussed.Dept. of Psychology. Paper copy at Leddy Library: Theses & Major Papers - Basement, West Bldg. / Call Number: Thesis2002 .B76. Source: Masters Abstracts International, Volume: 41-04, page: 1202. Adviser: Lori Buchanan. Thesis (M.A.)--University of Windsor (Canada), 2002.