Central and peripheral components of writing critically depend on a defined area of the dominant superior parietal gyrus.
ABSTRACT Classical neuropsychological models of writing separate central (linguistic) processes common to oral spelling, writing and typing from peripheral (motor) processes that are modality specific. Damage to the left superior parietal gyrus, an area of the cortex involved in peripheral processes specific to handwriting, should generate distorted graphemes but not misspelled words, while damage to other areas of the cortex like the frontal lobe should produce alterations in written and oral spelling without distorted graphemes. We describe the clinical and neuropsychological features of a patient with combined agraphia for handwriting and typewriting bearing a small glioblastoma in the left parietal lobe. His agraphia resolved after antiedema therapy and we tested by bipolar cortical stimulation his handwriting abilities during an awake neurosurgical procedure. We found that we could reversibly re-induce the same defects of writing by stimulating during surgery a limited area of the superior parietal gyrus in the same patient and in an independent patient that was never agraphic before the operation. In those patients stimulation caused spelling errors, poorly formed letters and in some cases a complete cessation of writing with minimal or no effects on oral spelling. Our results suggest that stimulating a specific area in the superior parietal gyrus we can generate different patterns of agraphia. Moreover, our findings also suggest that some of the central processes specific for typing and handwriting converge with motor processes at least in the limited portion of the superior parietal gyrus we mapped in our patients.