Anatomic, clinical, and neuropsychological correlates of spelling errors in primary progressive aphasia

Hyungsub Shim, Robert S Hurley, Emily Rogalski, M-Marsel Mesulam
Neuropsychologia 2012, 50 (8): 1929-35
This study evaluates spelling errors in the three subtypes of primary progressive aphasia (PPA): agrammatic (PPA-G), logopenic (PPA-L), and semantic (PPA-S). Forty-one PPA patients and 36 age-matched healthy controls were administered a test of spelling. The total number of errors and types of errors in spelling to dictation of regular words, exception words and nonwords, were recorded. Error types were classified based on phonetic plausibility. In the first analysis, scores were evaluated by clinical diagnosis. Errors in spelling exception words and phonetically plausible errors were seen in PPA-S. Conversely, PPA-G was associated with errors in nonword spelling and phonetically implausible errors. In the next analysis, spelling scores were correlated to other neuropsychological language test scores. Significant correlations were found between exception word spelling and measures of naming and single word comprehension. Nonword spelling correlated with tests of grammar and repetition. Global language measures did not correlate significantly with spelling scores, however. Cortical thickness analysis based on MRI showed that atrophy in several language regions of interest were correlated with spelling errors. Atrophy in the left supramarginal gyrus and inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) pars orbitalis correlated with errors in nonword spelling, while thinning in the left temporal pole and fusiform gyrus correlated with errors in exception word spelling. Additionally, phonetically implausible errors in regular word spelling correlated with thinning in the left IFG pars triangularis and pars opercularis. Together, these findings suggest two independent systems for spelling to dictation, one phonetic (phoneme to grapheme conversion), and one lexical (whole word retrieval).

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