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Pia L.,University of Turin | Spinazzola L.,Hospital Company S. Antonio Abate | Rabuffetti M.,Foundation Don Carlo Gnocchi ONLUS | Ferrarin M.,Foundation Don Carlo Gnocchi ONLUS | And 4 more authors.
Cortex | Year: 2013

In anosognosia for hemiplegia, patients may claim having performed willed actions with the paralyzed limb despite unambiguous evidence to the contrary. Does this false belief of having moved reflect the functioning of the same mechanisms that govern normal motor performance? Here, we examined whether anosognosics show the same temporal constraints known to exist during bimanual movements in healthy subjects. In these paradigms, when participants simultaneously reach for two targets of different difficulties, the motor programs of one hand affect the execution of the other. In detail, the movement time of the hand going to an easy target (i.e., near and large), while the other is going to a difficult target (i.e., far and small), is slowed with respect to unimanual movements (temporal coupling effect). One right-brain-damaged patient with left hemiplegia and anosognosia, six right-brain-damaged patients with left hemiplegia without anosognosia, and twenty healthy subjects were administered such a bimanual task. We recorded the movement times for easy and difficult targets, both in unimanual (one target) and bimanual (two targets) conditions. We found that, as healthy subjects, the anosognosic patient showed coupling effect. In bimanual asymmetric conditions (when one hand went to the easy target and the other went to the difficult target), the movement time of the non-paralyzed hand going to the easy target was slowed by the 'pretended' movement of the paralyzed hand going to the difficult target. This effect was not present in patients without anosognosia. We concluded that in anosognosic patients, the illusory movements of the paralyzed hand impose to the non-paralyzed hand the same motor constraints that emerge during the actual movements. Our data also support the view that coupling relies on central operations (i.e., activation of intention/programming system), rather than on online information from the periphery. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

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