Coordination deficits in ideomotor apraxia during visually targeted reaching reflect impaired visuomotor transformations.
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Ideomotor limb apraxia, commonly defined as a disorder of skilled, purposeful movement, is characterized by spatiotemporal deficits during a variety of actions. These deficits have been attributed to damage to, or impaired retrieval of, stored representations of learned actions, especially object-related movements. However, such deficits might also arise from impaired visuomotor transformation mechanisms that operate in parallel to or downstream from mechanisms for storage of action representations. These transformation processes convert extrinsic visual information into intrinsic neural commands appropriate for the desired motion. These processes are a key part of the movement planning process and performance errors due to inadequate transformations have been shown to increase with the dynamic complexity of the movement. This hypothesis predicts that apraxic patients should show planning deficits when reaching to visual targets, especially when the coordination and/or dynamic requirements of the task increase. Three groups (18 healthy controls, 9 non-apraxic and 9 apraxic left hemisphere damaged patients) performed reaching movements to visual targets that varied in the degree of interjoint coordination required. Relative to the other two groups, apraxic patients made larger initial direction errors and showed higher variability during their movements, especially when reaching to the target with the highest intersegmental coordination requirement. These problems were associated with poor coordination of shoulder and elbow torques early in the movement, consistent with poor movement planning. These findings suggest that the requirement to transform extrinsic visual information into intrinsic motor commands impedes the ability to accurately plan a visually targeted movement in ideomotor limb apraxia.Published by Elsevier Ltd.