Conclusions

Writing is a complex cognitive activity that requires the interaction of linguistic, motor, spatial, and perceptual systems for normal performance. For these reasons, and perhaps also because it is the least frequently used language modality, writing remains a fragile skill that is highly vulnerable to disruption by brain damage.

In this article, we provided evidence that the various agraphia syndromes observed in neurological patients are interpretable within the framework of a cognitive model of normal spelling and writing. It is anticipated that the functional architecture of the model will undergo further modifications and refinements not only as a result of neuropsychological case studies but also on the basis of relevant observations in normal subjects and insights gained from computational models of spelling and writing.

Most of our knowledge concerning the neural substrates of writing comes from clinicoanatomical observations in patients with focal brain damage. Currently, there are only a few neuroimaging studies of writing in normal subjects, but it is clear that this methodology holds tremendous promise for functional localization. By combining patient lesion data with neuroimaging studies in normal individuals, it will be possible to map the cognitive operations involved in writing onto specific brain regions with much greater precision than either technique alone would permit. We are confident that future research in the related fields of cognitive neuropsychology, neurolingustics, and functional neuroimaging will lead to exciting new insights into the neural mechanisms underlying this unique cognitive skill, the development of which had the revolutionary impact of allowing human beings to communicate their ideas across space and time.

See Also the Following Articles

ALEXIA • APHASIA • BROCA'S AREA • DYSLEXIA • LANGUAGE AND LEXICAL PROCESSING •

LANGUAGE DISORDERS • READING DISORDERS, DEVELOPMENTAL • WERNICKE'S AREA

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