Objectives: We investigated how changes in the writing of 14 Korean stroke patients reflect the unique features of the Korean writing system.
Background: The Korean writing system, Han-geul, has both linguistic and visuospatial/constructive characteristics. In the visuospatial construction of a syllable, the component consonant(s) and vowel(s) must be arranged from top-to-bottom and/or left-to-right within the form of a square. This syllabic organization, unique to Korean writing, may distinguish dysgraphia in Korean patients from the disorder in other languages, and reveal the effects of stroke on visuospatial/constructive abilities.
Methods: We compared 2 groups of patients affected by stroke, 1 group with left hemisphere (LH) lesions and the other with right hemisphere (RH) lesions. We instructed them to write from a dictation of 90 monosyllabic stimuli, each presented with a real word cue. Patients had to repeat a target syllable and a word cue, and then to write the target syllable only.
Results: Patients with LH and RH lesions produced qualitatively different error patterns. While the LH lesion group produced primarily linguistic errors, visuospatial/constructive errors predominated in the group with RH lesions. With regard to language-specific features, these Korean patients with RH lesions produced diverse visuospatial/constructive errors not commonly observed in dysgraphia of the English language.
Conclusions: Language-specific writing errors by Korean stroke patients reflect the unique characteristics of Korean writing, which include the arrangement of strokes and graphemes within a square syllabic form by dimensional and spatial rules. These findings support the notion that the Korean writing system possesses a language-specific nature with both linguistic and visuospatial/constructive processes. Distinctive patterns of dysgraphia in the Korean language also suggest interactivity between linguistic and visuospatial/constructive levels of processing. This study is noteworthy for its systematic description of Korean dysgraphia in the largest group of patients studied to date.