Letter coding affects movement production in word writing: an English–Italian cross-linguistic study
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The present research is a cross-linguistic study indicating that the timing of motor production not only depends on the shape of a letter and the activation of its motor program but also on the way the orthographic representations encode the letters for spelling retrieval. English and Italian-speaking participants wrote cognate words (e.g., DISSIPATE–DISSIPARE) on a digitizer. The words contained a doublet. They were matched to words that shared the initial letters and differed on the presence of a double letter (e.g., DISSIPATE/DISGRACE in English and DISSIPARE/DISGRAZIA in Italian). The results revealed that the presence of a doublet in English and Italian words accelerated motor production with respect to control words. Word production seems to be modulated by the way orthographic representations encode letters, but the way doublet coding affects writing differs among languages. The impact of letter doubling seems to be stronger in Italian than English. The data provide further evidence indicating that the processes involved in spelling retrieval spread into the processes that regulate movement execution.
KeywordsDouble letters Handwriting English Italian
We are extremely grateful to Alfonso Caramazza for his ideas and comments related to this research. We would also like to thank the Harvard University Cognitive Neuropsychology Laboratory for allowing Sonia Kandel conduct the English experiment of the cross-linguistic study presented in this manuscript. Thanks to Géraldine Grosjacques for her help in the Italian experiment. We acknowledge funding from the Agence Nationale de la Recherche ANR ECRIRE 14-C30-0013-01) attributed to Sonia Kandel and Cyril Perret). We thank the MSHS of Poitiers (USR-CNRS 3565) for technical support.
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