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December 1992

Laura: A Case Study for the Modularity of Language

Author Affiliations

London, Ontario

Arch Neurol. 1992;49(12):1225-1226. doi:10.1001/archneur.1992.00530360019006

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Language can be remarkably preserved, even in face of relatively severe mental retardation, a fact that has been known to pediatricians, child neurologists, psychologists, and many others who have had contact with such individuals. Yamada's book Laura, a case study of a woman, illustrates this dissociation. The introduction touches on the duality of cognition and language and reviews some evidence for their dissociation in cases of Turner's syndrome, hydrocephalics, William's syndrome, and other reports. Somewhat related cases are the descriptions of hyperlexia and the relatively large literature on "savants" with selectively superior abilities in memory, music, calendar calculation, and mental arithmetic.

The case report begins with anecdotal descriptions of her early development. Mention is made of Laura's hypothyroidism (cretinism), precocious puberty, abnormal electroencephalogram, and dysmorphic features. The assessment included language and nonlanguage measures, using a rather widely ranging battery of tests. In the linguistic analysis of Laura's speech, Yamada em

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