An event-related fMRI study of self-paced alphabetically ordered writing of single letters

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The spatial location of activation for writing individual letters and for writing simple dots was studied using event-related functional MRI. Ten healthy right-handed subjects were scanned while performing two different protocols with self-paced repetitive movement. In the first protocol with self-paced dot writing, we observed significant activation in regions known to participate in motor control: contralateral to the movement in the primary sensorimotor and supramarginal cortices, the supplementary motor area (SMA) with the underlying cingulate, in the thalamus and, to a lesser extent, in the ipsilateral inferior parietal and occipital cortices. In the second protocol, we investigated an elemental writing feature—writing single letters. We observed statistically significant changes in the premotor, sensorimotor and supramarginal cortices, the SMA and the thalamus with left predominance, and in the bilateral premotor and inferior/superior parietal cortices. The parietal region that was active during the writing of single letters spanned the border between the parietal superior and inferior lobuli Brodmann area (BA 2, 40), deep in the intraparietal sulcus, with a surprising right-sided dominance. The direct comparison of the results of the two protocols was not significant with a confidence level of P<0.05 corrected for whole brain volume. Thus, the ROI approach was used, and we tried to find significant differences within the two predefined regions of interest (ROI) (BA 7, BA 37). The differences were found with a confidence level of P<0.05 corrected for the volume of these predicted areas. The ROI were located in the posterior parts of hemispheres, in the ventral and in the dorsal visual pathway. The right-sided posterior cortices may play a role in the elemental mechanisms of writing. It is possible that activation of this region is linked with the spatial dimension of the writing.

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