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Hum Brain Mapp. 2011 Aug;32(8):1250-9. doi: 10.1002/hbm.21105. Epub 2010 Jul 28.

What differs in visual recognition of handwritten vs. printed letters? An fMRI study.

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Brain Research Unit, Low Temperature Laboratory, Aalto University School of Science and Technology, Espoo, Finland.


In models of letter recognition, handwritten letters are considered as a particular font exemplar, not qualitatively different in their processing from printed letters. Yet, some data suggest that recognizing handwritten letters might rely on distinct processes, possibly related to motor knowledge. We applied functional magnetic resonance imaging to compare the neural correlates of perceiving handwritten letters vs. standard printed letters. Statistical analysis circumscribed to frontal brain regions involved in hand-movement triggering and execution showed that processing of handwritten letters is supported by a stronger activation of the left primary motor cortex and the supplementary motor area. At the whole-brain level, additional differences between handwritten and printed letters were observed in the right superior frontal, middle occipital, and parahippocampal gyri, and in the left inferior precentral and the fusiform gyri. The results are suggested to indicate embodiment of the visual perception of handwritten letters.

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