Lexical and semantic access in Letter-by-Letter Dyslexia: A case report


Brain and Language, 95, 225–226


October, 2005


Aggujaro, S., Crepaldi, D., Ripamonti, E., & Luzzatti, C.
Letter-by-letter (LBL) dyslexia is a reading impairment caused by left occipital damage and characterized by significant increase in reading time according to the number of letters in a given string (word length effect). In analogy to Dejerine’s (1892) interpretation of
pure alexia, this disorder is said to be the consequence of a disconnection of the word-blind right hemisphere (RH) from the left hemisphere (LH) word recognition system (angular gyrus). According to this view, patients affected by LBL dyslexia would have no
residual reading abilities. However, several patients have been foundto maintain some reading capacities. Coslett and Saffran (1989) described four LBL patients who performed better than chance either on lexical decision or on semantic judgment tasks with words
that could not be explicitly identified (implicit reading). Results arecontroversial (Behrmann, Black, & Bub, 1990) and not consistent with the assumption of a complete RH-blindness. Data on pure alexia and LBL reading were mostly obtained on French- or Eng-
lish-speaking patients, i.e., patients speaking languages with largely irregular orthography, but similar results were also occasionally reported for languages with shallow orthography, like Italian (Perri, Bartolomeo, & Silveri, 1996). The purpose of the present study is to
collect data on the nature of the implicit reading phenomenon, to analyze the explicit and implicit reading abilities of a bilingual English and Italian-speaking patient suffering from LBL dyslexia, and to verify for a possible different reading behavior in the two languages.