In Neuropsychology, what is Dysnomia?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Head injury is a leading cause of dysnomia.
Head injury is a leading cause of dysnomia.

Dysnomia is a type of memory disorder where people sometimes have difficulty recalling words and names. It is a form of nominal aphasia, a term used to refer to conditions where people cannot remember specific words, but is a mild form. Unlike anomia, where people cannot remember certain kinds of words at all, patients can experience intermittent memory problems and may have no trouble with recall in some situations. Treatment options are available, and depend on why the patient experiences memory problems.

Dysnomia is a type of memory disorder.
Dysnomia is a type of memory disorder.

One potential cause is a congenital condition. Some learning disorders can occur with dysnomia. Patients with brain trauma like strokes and head injuries may experience memory problems, which often resolve on their own after a set period of time. It is also possible to start losing the ability to name objects and people reliably as a result of degenerative neurological disease, in which case the problem will probably grow worse over time.

Brain trauma can cause varying levels of dysnomia.
Brain trauma can cause varying levels of dysnomia.

This can also be a symptom of a medical problem. Intoxication, low blood sugar, dehydration, and drug overdose, among other things, can all cause memory problems. Evaluation for many common medical issues known to involve the brain may include a quick neurological examination to see if patients have symptoms like dysnomia, difficulty remembering things, or trouble with simple concepts and tasks, like walking in a straight line.

Head injuries that result in brain trauma can cause dysnomia.
Head injuries that result in brain trauma can cause dysnomia.

Patients know the words, but are unable to retrieve them. Many people have a “tip of the tongue” feeling at some point during their lives, where they momentarily blank on the word they want to use. This is not necessarily a sign of a disorder. In dysnomia, the inability to remember words becomes a hindrance in daily activities, making it hard for people to communicate and accomplish tasks. People may notice that the frequency varies, depending on stress levels, fatigue, and other factors. These can be important diagnostic clues and may help patients develop appropriate coping mechanisms as well.

Memory problems can be caused by intoxication.
Memory problems can be caused by intoxication.

If the dysnomia is a symptom of another problem, treating the issue should resolve the memory issues. When it is part of a primary presentation of illness, it may not be possible to treat it, depending on the condition. For people with degenerative brain diseases, for example, some therapeutic activities can help with recall and memory formation, but ultimately the patient will experience increasing declines in brain function. For learning disorders, therapies are available to help children develop coping skills to manage dysnomia, but the underlying issue will persist.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

anon191107

What is the difference between dysnomia and lethologica?

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    • Head injury is a leading cause of dysnomia.
      By: seraphic06
      Head injury is a leading cause of dysnomia.
    • Dysnomia is a type of memory disorder.
      By: xalanx
      Dysnomia is a type of memory disorder.
    • Brain trauma can cause varying levels of dysnomia.
      By: Verity Johnson
      Brain trauma can cause varying levels of dysnomia.
    • Head injuries that result in brain trauma can cause dysnomia.
      By: corepics
      Head injuries that result in brain trauma can cause dysnomia.
    • Memory problems can be caused by intoxication.
      By: kolotype
      Memory problems can be caused by intoxication.
    • Dysnomia can cause confusion and people to become lost in their surroundings.
      By: Shooter
      Dysnomia can cause confusion and people to become lost in their surroundings.
    • A drug overdose may be the cause of memory problems.
      By: Lord_Ghost
      A drug overdose may be the cause of memory problems.