Neural correlates of handwriting (training)
Best, P.B. de
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Handwriting is required in children’s daily and academic activities, for instance performing a test or writing an essay. Unfortunately, handwriting problems occur in 5 to 33 % of school-going children. Training in handwriting is successful if it includes handwriting or handwriting pattern exercises. In children, the areas of the brain that are involved in this important skill are for a large part unknown. Therefore, I will investigate the brain areas involved in (training in) handwriting in my four year PhD project. I will do this in three phases. In the first phase I will evaluate which areas of the brain are involved in handwriting. In order to do this, I will test 28 grade 3-4 children. 14 of these children have HWP and 14 have not. Using various brain scanning techniques, I will unravel the brain areas involved in handwriting. I will also check whether activity in these areas is associated with handwriting skills, and whether the involved areas differ between children with and without HWP. In the second phase of the project, I will develop software. This software will include handwriting and handwriting pattern exercises. Its content will be enough to exercise during eight one hour sessions. In the third phase of the project I will study how the brain areas involved in handwriting change after training in 40 grade 2-4 children. 20 of them will receive the eight handwriting exercise sessions of the software. These handwriting sessions will occur once a week for eight weeks. The other 20 children will be matched in gender to the software training group. They will not receive training. The brain areas involved in handwriting will again be scanned. This will occur before and after training. I will again associate the activity in these areas with handwriting skills. However, now the involved brain areas after training will be compared to those before training. These experiments will reveal the brain areas involved in (training in) handwriting. This could clear up which skills of children define successful handwriting. This knowledge may then be used to improve the available interventions of handwriting problems. Moreover, this study may clarify which specific brain areas are involved in handwriting and in the coupling of thoughts/meaning with actions (writing words). This would be a major contribution to neuroscience.