Alexias are common in patients who have sustained damage to the left hemisphere of the brain and are present in most patients with aphasia. In recent years, several different varieties of alexia have been identified. This is not surprising: Reading is a skill consisting of many cognitive components. Although there are many different models of reading, most agree that certain basic processes must occur: The written symbols are processed perceptually; letters are segregated and identified; orthographic units are matched to stored orthographic representations (knowledge of the letters that comprise a word and the order in which they occur); and the activation of orthographic representations, in turn, leads to activation of phonologic representations (the word's pronunciation) and semantic representations (the word's meaning). Disturbances in these various subcomponents of reading might very well be expected to disturb the process of reading in different ways. The identification of different types of alexia has led to new, more specific, approaches to treatment as well as to more detailed assessments of acquired reading disorders.

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