Dysgraphia in patients with primary lateral sclerosis: A speech-based rehearsal deficit?

S. Zago, B. Poletti, M. Corbo, L. Adobbati, V. Silani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present study aims to demonstrate that errors when writing are more common than expected in patients affected by primary lateral sclerosis (PLS) with severe dysarthria or complete mutism, independent of spasticity. Sixteen patients meeting Pringle's et al. [34] criteria for PLS underwent standard neuropsychological tasks and evaluation of writing. We assessed writing abilities in spelling through dictation in which a set of words, non-words and short phrases were presented orally and by composing words using a set of preformed letters. Finally, a written copying task was performed with the same words. Relative to controls, PLS patients made a greater number of spelling errors in all writing conditions, but not in copy task. The error types included: omissions, transpositions, insertions and letter substitutions. These were equally distributed on the writing task and the composition of words with a set of preformed letters. This pattern of performance is consistent with a spelling impairment. The results are consistent with the concept that written production is critically dependent on the subvocal articulatory mechanism of rehearsal, perhaps at the level of retaining the sequence of graphemes in a graphemic buffer. In PLS patients a disturbance in rehearsal opportunity may affect the correct sequencing/assembly of an orthographic representation in the written process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-175
Number of pages7
JournalBehavioural Neurology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • Dysgraphia
  • Primary lateral sclerosis
  • Rehearsal deficit
  • Speechless condition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology


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