Tobias Pflugshaupt

Luzern, Schwitzerland




Pflugshaupt, T., Suchan, J., Mandler, M. A., Sokolov, A. N., Trauzettel-Klosinski, S., & Karnath, H. O. (2011). Do patients with pure alexia suffer from a specific word form processing deficit? Evidence from 'wrods with trasnpsoed letetrs'. Neuropsychologia, 49, 1294-1301.
Notes: It is widely accepted that letter-by-letter reading and a pronounced increase in reading time as a function of word length are the hallmark features of pure alexia. Why patients show these two phenomena with respect to underlying cognitive mechanisms is, however, much less clear. Two main hypotheses have been proposed, i.e. impaired discrimination of letters and deficient processing of word forms. While the former deficit can easily be investigated in isolation, previous findings favouring the latter seem confounded. Applying a word reading paradigm with systematically manipulated letter orders in two patients with pure alexia, we demonstrate a word form processing deficit that is not attributable to sublexical letter discrimination difficulties. Moreover, pure alexia-like fixation patterns could be induced in healthy adults by having them read sentences including words with transposed letters, so-called 'jumbled words'. This further corroborates a key role of deficient word form processing in pure alexia. With regard to basic reading research, the present study extends recent evidence for relative, rather than precise, encoding of letter position in the brain

Pflugshaupt, T., Gutbrod, K., Wurtz, P., von Wartburg, R., Nyffeler, T., De Haan, B. et al. (2009). About the role of visual field defects in pure alexia. Brain, 132, 1907-1917.
Notes: Pure alexia is an acquired reading disorder characterized by a disproportionate prolongation of reading time as a function of word length. Although the vast majority of cases reported in the literature show a right-sided visual defect, little is known about the contribution of this low-level visual impairment to their reading difficulties. The present study was aimed at investigating this issue by comparing eye movement patterns during text reading in six patients with pure alexia with those of six patients with hemianopic dyslexia showing similar right-sided visual field defects. We found that the role of the field defect in the reading difficulties of pure alexics was highly deficit-specific. While the amplitude of rightward saccades during text reading seems largely determined by the restricted visual field, other visuo-motor impairments-particularly the pronounced increases in fixation frequency and viewing time as a function of word length-may have little to do with their visual field defect. In addition, subtracting the lesions of the hemianopic dyslexics from those found in pure alexics revealed the largest group differences in posterior parts of the left fusiform gyrus, occipito-temporal sulcus and inferior temporal gyrus. These regions included the coordinate assigned to the centre of the visual word form area in healthy adults, which provides further evidence for a relation between pure alexia and a damaged visual word form area. Finally, we propose a list of three criteria that may improve the differential diagnosis of pure alexia and allow appropriate therapy recommendations

Anders Gade