Dr. Karin Harman James seems to specialize in this area of research concerning children. Her experiments with an fMRI have shown that handwriting offers some neurological advantages of increased character recognition that typing does not.
Functional specialization in the brain is considered a hallmark of efficient processing. It is therefore not surprising that there are brain areas specialized for processing letters. To better understand the causes of functional specialization for letters, we explore the emergence of this pattern of response in the ventral processing stream through a training paradigm. Previously, we hypothesized that the specialized response pattern seen during letter perception may be due in part to our experience in writing letters. The work presented here investigates whether or not this aspect of letter processing—the integration of sensorimotor systems through writing—leads to functional specialization in the visual system. To test this idea, we investigated whether or not different types of experiences with letter-like stimuli (“pseudoletters”) led to functional specialization similar to that which exists for letters. Neural activation patterns were measured using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) before and after three different types of training sessions. Participants were trained to recognize pseudoletters by writing, typing, or purely visual practice. Results suggested that only after writing practice did neural activation patterns to pseudoletters resemble patterns seen for letters. That is, neural activation in the left fusiform and dorsal precentral gyrus was greater when participants viewed pseudoletters than other, similar stimuli but only after writing experience. Neural activation also increased after typing practice in the right fusiform and left precentral gyrus, suggesting that in some areas, any motor experience may change visual processing. The results of this experiment suggest an intimate interaction among perceptual and motor systems during pseudoletter perception that may be extended to everyday letter perception.
-The role of sensorimotor learning in the perception of letter-like forms: Tracking the causes of neural specialization for letters
Writing does somewhat interfere with reading.
The effect of writing on the concurrent visual perception of letters was investigated in a series of studies using an interference paradigm. Participants drew shapes and letters while simultaneously visually identifying letters and shapes embedded in noise. Experiments 1–3 demonstrated that letter perception, but not the perception of shapes, was affected by motor interference. This suggests a strong link between the perception of letters and the neural substrates engaged during writing. The overlap both in category (letter vs. shape) and in the perceptual similarity of the features (straight vs. curvy) of the seen and drawn items determined the amount of interference. Experiment 4 demonstrated that intentional production of letters is not necessary for the interference to occur, because passive movement of the hand in the shape of letters also interfered with letter perception. When passive movements were used, however, only the category of the drawn items (letters vs. shapes), but not the perceptual similarity, had an influence, suggesting that motor representations for letters may selectively influence visual perception of letters through proprioceptive feedback, with an additional influence of perceptual similarity that depends on motor programs. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
-When writing impairs reading: Letter perception’s susceptibility to motor interference.
Given this research I do not think writing offers any major advantages over typing in adults.