Dyscravia: voicing substitution dysgraphia.

Research paper by Aviah A Gvion, Naama N Friedmann

Indexed on: 20 Mar '10Published on: 20 Mar '10Published in: Neuropsychologia


We report a new type of dysgraphia, which we term dyscravia. The main error type in dyscravia is substitution of the target letter with a letter that differs only with respect to the voicing feature, such as writing "coat" for "goat", and "vagd" for "fact". Two Hebrew-speaking individuals with acquired dyscravia are reported, TG, a man aged 31, and BG, a woman aged 66. Both had surface dysgraphia in addition to their dyscravia. To describe dyscravia in detail, and to explore the rate and types of errors made in spelling, we administered tests of writing to dictation, written naming, and oral spelling. In writing to dictation, TG made voicing errors on 38% of the words, and BG made 17% voicing errors. Voicing errors also occurred in nonword writing (43% for TG, 56% for BG). The writing performance and the variables that influenced the participants' spelling, as well as the results of the auditory discrimination and repetition tasks indicated that their dyscravia did not result from a deficit in auditory processing, the graphemic buffer, the phonological output lexicon, the phonological output buffer, or the allographic stage. The locus of the deficit is the phoneme-to-grapheme conversion, in a function specialized in the conversion of phonemes' voicing feature into graphemes. Because these participants had surface dysgraphia and were forced to write via the sublexical route, the deficit in voicing was evident in their writing of both words and nonwords. We further examined whether the participants also evinced parallel errors in reading. TG had a selective voicing deficit in writing, and did not show any voicing errors in reading, whereas BG had voicing errors also in the reading of nonwords (i.e., she had dyslegzia in addition to dyscravia). The dissociation TG demonstrated indicated that the voicing feature conversion is separate for reading and writing, and can be impaired selectively in writing. BG's dyslegzia indicates that the grapheme-to-phoneme conversion also includes a function that is sensitive to phonological features such as voicing. Thus the main conclusion of this study is that a separate function of voicing feature conversion exists in the phoneme-to-grapheme conversion route, which may be selectively impaired without deficits in other functions of the conversion route, and without a parallel deficit in reading.