Cortical electrical stimulation mapping was used to study neural substrates of the function of writing in the temporoparietal cortex. We identified the sites involved in oral language (sentence reading and naming) and writing from dictation, in order to spare these areas during removal of brain tumours in 30 patients (23 in the left, and 7 in the right hemisphere). Electrostimulation of the cortex impaired writing ability in 62 restricted cortical areas (.25 cm2). These were found in left temporoparietal lobes and were mostly located along the superior temporal gyrus (Brodmann's areas 22 and 42). Stimulation of right temporoparietal lobes in right-handed patients produced no writing impairments. However there was a high variability of location between individuals. Stimulation resulted in combined symptoms (affecting oral language and writing) in fourteen patients, whereas in eight other patients, stimulation-induced pure agraphia symptoms with no oral language disturbance in twelve of the identified areas. Each detected area affected writing in a different way. We detected the various different stages of the auditory-to-motor pathway of writing from dictation: either through comprehension of the dictated sentences (word deafness areas), lexico-semantic retrieval, or phonologic processing. In group analysis, barycentres of all different types of writing interferences reveal a hierarchical functional organization along the superior temporal gyrus from initial word recognition to lexico-semantic and phonologic processes along the ventral and the dorsal comprehension pathways, supporting the previously described auditory-to-motor process. The left posterior Sylvian region supports different aspects of writing function that are extremely specialized and localized, sometimes being segregated in a way that could account for the occurrence of pure agraphia that has long-been described in cases of damage to this region.
Keywords: Brain mapping; Electrostimulation; Pure agraphia; Word deafness; Writing.
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