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.