Fusiform type alexia: pure alexia for words in contrast to posterior occipital type pure alexia for letters

Yasuhisa Sakurai, Atsuhiko Yagishita, Yasushi Goto, Hiroshi Ohtsu, Toru Mannen
Journal of the Neurological Sciences 2006 August 15, 247 (1): 81-92

OBJECTIVE: To clarify the behavioral differences between patients with pure alexia from different lesions.

METHODS: Two patients with pure alexia caused by damage to the fusiform or posterior occipital gyri were given reading and writing tests including kanji (Japanese morphograms) and kana (Japanese phonetic writing).

RESULTS: Patient 1 (pure alexia from a fusiform gyrus lesion) had difficulty reading both kanji and kana, with kanji reading more impaired, and imageability and visual complexity effects (imageable or less complex words/characters were read better than nonimageable or more complex words/characters), whereas patient 2 (pure alexia from a posterior occipital gyri lesion) showed selective impairment of kana reading.

CONCLUSION: Pure alexia for kanji (and kana; fusiform type) is characterized by impairments of both whole-word reading, as represented in kanji reading, and letter identification, and is different from pure alexia for kana (posterior occipital type) in which letter identification is primarily impaired. Thus, fusiform type pure alexia should be designated pure alexia for words, whereas posterior occipital type pure alexia should be designated pure alexia for letters.

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