Michael McCloskey

Department of Cognitive Sciences,
Johns Hopkins University, 
Baltimore, MD








Selected references on spelling - and on cognitive neuropsychology


Fischer-Baum, S., McCloskey, M., & Rapp, B. (2010). Representation of letter position in spelling: evidence from acquired dysgraphia. Cognition, 115, 466-490.
Notes: The graphemic representations that underlie spelling performance must encode not only the identities of the letters in a word, but also the positions of the letters. This study investigates how letter position information is represented. We present evidence from two dysgraphic individuals, CM and LSS, who perseverate letters when spelling: that is, letters from previous spelling responses intrude into subsequent responses. The perseverated letters appear more often than expected by chance in the same position in the previous and subsequent responses. We used these errors to address the question of how letter position is represented in spelling. In a series of analyses we determined how often the perseveration errors produced maintain position as defined by a number of alternative theories of letter position encoding proposed in the literature. The analyses provide strong evidence that the grapheme representations used in spelling encode letter position such that position is represented in a graded manner based on distance from both-edges of the word
Department of Cognitive Science, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA. fischerbaum@cogsci.jhu.edu

McCloskey, M., Macaruso, P., & Rapp, B. (2006). Grapheme-to-lexeme feedback in the spelling system: Evidence from a dysgraphic patient.  Cognitive Neuropsychology, 23, 278-307.
Notes: M. McCloskey, Department of Cognitive Sciences, Johns Hopkins University, Krieger Hall, Baltimore, MD 21218
This article presents an argument for grapheme-to-lexeme feedback in the cognitive spelling system, based on the impaired spelling performance of dysgraphic patient CM. The argument relates two features of CM's spelling. First, letters from prior spelling responses intrude into subsequent responses at rates far greater than expected by chance. This letter persistence effect arises at a level of abstract grapheme representations, and apparently results from abnormal persistence of activation. Second, CM makes many formal lexical errors (e.g., carpet < right-arrow > compute). Analyses revealed that a large proportion of these errors are "true" lexical errors originating in lexical selection, rather than "chance" lexical errors that happen by chance to take the form of words. Additional analyses demonstrated that CM's true lexical errors exhibit the letter persistence effect. We argue that this finding can be understood only within a functional architecture in which activation from the grapheme level feeds back to the lexeme level, thereby influencing lexical selection.

McCloskey, M. (2003). Beyond task dissociation logic: a richer conception of cognitive neuropsychology. Cortex, 39, 196-202.
Notes: Department of Cognitive Science, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA. michael.mccloskey@jhu.edu

McCloskey, M. (2001). The future of cognitive neuropsychology. In B.Rapp (Ed.), The handbook of cognitive neuropsychology (pp. 593-610). Philadelphia,PA: Psychology Press.

McCloskey, M., Badecker, W., Goodman-Schulman, R. A., & Aliminosa, D. (1994). The structure of graphemic representations in spelling: Evidence from a case of acquired dysgraphia. Cognitive Neuropsychology, 11, 341-392.
Notes: A single-case study of an acquired dysgraphic patient is presented. On the basis of the patient's pattern of spelling errors, and especially his errors on words with the geminate letters (e.g. "cross" spelled croos), it is argued that stored spelling representations are not simple linear sequences of letter tokens (e.g. C-R-O-S-S). Rather, it is proposed that the graphemic representations processed by the cognitive spelling mechanisms are multidimensional structures that encode separately letter position, letter identity, letter doubling, and consonant/wovel status

Caramazza, A. & McCloskey, M. (1988). The case for single-patient studies. Special Issue: Methodological problems in cognitive neuropsychology. Cognitive Neuropsychology, 5, 517-527.
Notes: It is argued that only single-patient studies allow valid inferences about normal cognitive processes from the analysis of acquired cognitive disorders. The arguments in favor of this position support the further claim that clinical classifications such as agrammatism and deep dyslexia are theoretically useless.



Anders Gade