Apraxia of speech is a disorder of speech-motor planning in which articulation is effortful and error-prone despite normal strength of the articulators. Phonological alexia and agraphia are disorders of reading and writing disproportionately affecting unfamiliar words. These disorders are almost always accompanied by aphasia.
A 36-year-old woman underwent resection of a grade IV astrocytoma based in the left middle precentral gyrus, including a cortical site associated with speech arrest during electrocortical stimulation mapping. Following surgery, she exhibited moderate apraxia of speech and difficulty with reading and spelling, both of which improved but persisted 6 months after surgery. A battery of speech and language assessments was administered, revealing preserved comprehension, naming, cognition, and orofacial praxis, with largely isolated deficits in speech-motor planning and the spelling and reading of nonwords.
This case describes a specific constellation of speech-motor and written language symptoms—apraxia of speech, phonological agraphia, and phonological alexia in the absence of aphasia—which the authors theorize may be attributable to disruption of a single process of “motor-phonological sequencing.” The middle precentral gyrus may play an important role in the planning of motorically complex phonological sequences for production, independent of output modality.