Reading and Writing

, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 217–233 | Cite as

Writing difficulties in Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment

  • Olivia AfonsoEmail author
  • Carlos J. Álvarez
  • Carmen Martínez
  • Fernando Cuetos


The present study addresses the scope of the writing difficulties observed in patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Patients with AD, patients with MCI and healthy controls performed a written picture-naming task and a direct copy transcoding task in which phonology-to-orthography (P–O) consistency was manipulated. Written latencies, inter-letter durations, mean word pen pressure and number of errors were measured. Results revealed that there was a significant difference between the control group and both groups of patients in written latencies and number of errors. However, in inter-letter interval or mean pen pressure there were significant differences only between the group with AD and the other groups. P–O consistency and the type of task produced similar effects in the three groups of participants, suggesting a general deficit affecting the ability to access/generate orthographic representations. The relevance of these results for understanding the spelling impairment in AD and MCI are discussed.


Handwriting Alzheimer’s disease Mild cognitive impairment Spelling-to-dictation Copying 



This study was funded by Grant PSI2015-64174P and Grant PSI2013-47959-P from the Spanish Government. Olivia Afonso was the recipient of a research Grant AP2007-00065 from the “Canarian Foundation Doctor Manuel Morales”. The authors would like to thank Margaret Gillon Dowens for her helpful comments on earlier drafts. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Olivia Afonso, Department of Psychology, Health and Professional Development, Oxford Brookes University, Gipsy Lane, OX3 0BP.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Oxford Brookes UniversityOxfordUK
  2. 2.Universidad de La LagunaTenerifeSpain
  3. 3.Hospital de CabueñesGijónSpain
  4. 4.Universidad de OviedoOviedoSpain

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