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Friday, February 5, 2016

When You Can't Spell A Word...

Scientists Think They Have Figured Out What's Going On in Your Brain When You Can't Spell a Word (+Video)

Tanya Lewis | February 5, 2016

Remember those traumatic spelling bees you had as a kid? You were probably engaging a complex set of brain processes involved in memory, and new research points to how that all works.
In a study published this week in the journal Brain, researchers at Johns Hopkins University studied people who had suffered brain damage from strokes or tumours and now have problems spelling words.
What they found is that the problems were linked to damage in three brain areas involved in either remembering words or recalling letters one-at-a-time.

Left: A composite image showing the brain lesions of people with spelling difficulty after strokes. Right: An image of a healthy brain depicting the regions typically active during spelling. Source:

<more at; (What goes wrong in the brain when someone can't spell. February 2, 2016) and (Neural bases of orthographic long-term memory and working memory in dysgraphia. Rapp B, Purcell J, Hillis AE, Capasso R, and Miceli G. Brain. 2015 Dec 17. pii: awv348. [Abstract: Spelling a word involves the retrieval of information about the word's letters and their order from long-term memory as well as the maintenance and processing of this information by working memory in preparation for serial production by the motor system. While it is known that brain lesions may selectively affect orthographic long-term memory and working memory processes, relatively little is known about the neurotopographic distribution of the substrates that support these cognitive processes, or the lesions that give rise to the distinct forms of dysgraphia that affect these cognitive processes. To examine these issues, this study uses a voxel-based mapping approach to analyse the lesion distribution of 27 individuals with dysgraphia subsequent to stroke, who were identified on the basis of their behavioural profiles alone, as suffering from deficits only affecting either orthographic long-term or working memory, as well as six other individuals with deficits affecting both sets of processes. The findings provide, for the first time, clear evidence of substrates that selectively support orthographic long-term and working memory processes, with orthographic long-term memory deficits centred in either the left posterior inferior frontal region or left ventral temporal cortex, and orthographic working memory deficits primarily arising from lesions of the left parietal cortex centred on the intraparietal sulcus. These findings also contribute to our understanding of the relationship between the neural instantiation of written language processes and spoken language, working memory and other cognitive skills.])

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