Superior written over spoken picture naming in a case of frontotemporal dementia

M. J. Tainturier*, O. Moreaud, D. David, E. C. Leek, J. Pellat

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Two main hypotheses have been proposed regarding the role of phonology in written word production. According to the phonological mediation hypothesis, the retrieval of the lexical phonological representation of a word is an obligatory prerequisite to the retrieval of its spelling. Therefore, deficits to the phonological lexicon should affect both spoken and written picture naming. In contrast, the orthographic autonomy hypothesis posits that the lexical orthographic representations of words can be accessed without any necessary phonological mediation. In support of this view, cases of preserved written naming despite impaired lexical phonology have been reported following brain damage. In this report, we replicate this basic pattern of performance in case YP, a 60-year-old woman with a pattern of frontotemporal dementia. As her disease progressed, YP's ability to write down the names of pictures remained very good despite a severe decline in oral naming. Further testing indicated that this deficit was not primarily due to an articulatory or post-lexical phonological deficit. YP's case provides strong additional support for the orthographic autonomy hypothesis. The significance of this case with respect to the characterization of dementia syndromes is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-96
Number of pages8
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Frontotemporal dementia
  • Phonological mediation
  • Spelling
  • Spoken naming
  • Written naming

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