Do reading and spelling share orthographic representations? Evidence from developmental dysgraphia

Christopher Hepner, Michael McCloskey, Brenda Rapp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Both spelling and reading depend on knowledge of the spellings of words. Despite this commonality, observed dissociations between spelling and reading in cases of acquired and developmental deficits suggest some degree of independence between the cognitive mechanisms involved in these skills. In this paper, we examine the relationship between spelling and reading in two children with developmental dysgraphia. For both children, we identified significant deficits in spelling that affected the processing of orthographic long-term memory representations of words. We then examined their reading skills for similar difficulties. Even with extensive testing, we found no evidence of a reading deficit for one of the children. We propose that there may be an underlying difficulty that specifically affects the learning of orthographic word representations for spelling. These results lead us to conclude that at least some components of lexical orthographic representation and processing develop with considerable independence in spelling and reading.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-143
Number of pages25
JournalCognitive neuropsychology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - May 19 2017


  • Developmental cognitive neuropsychology
  • developmental dysgraphia
  • orthographic knowledge
  • spelling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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