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Production and visual perception of handwritten traces: A cognitive neuroscience perspective

Abstract

Handwriting is among the finest gestures humans can perform. Years of daily practice are necessary before it is fully mastered. In the first part of my presentation, I will review brain imaging and behavioral experiments on healthy volunteers, as well as neuropsychological studies on brain-damaged patients, which shed light on how the brain controls handwriting. I will discuss the idea, originally developed by the 19th century neurologist Sigmund Exner, of a brain center dedicated to writing.  

The aim of handwriting gestures is to leave a trace in the visual environment. This trace, although static, contains important dynamic information indicating how it has been produced.  In the second part of my presentation, I will focus on visual perception of graphic shapes and I will show that the brain is sensitive to this dynamic information. I will discuss the possible function of this sensitivity.