Santa Lucia - Neurosciences and Rehabilitation Sapienza University of Rome

J Neuropsychol. 2020 Feb 21;e12203. doi: 10.1111/jnp.12203

Anosognosia for limb and bucco-facial apraxia as inferred from the recognition of gestural errors

Anosognosia is a multifaceted syndrome characterized by a lack of awareness of motor, cognitive, or emotional deficits. While most studies have focused on basic motor disorders such as hemiplegia, only recently, the issue of whether anosognosia also concerns higher-order motor disorders like apraxia has been addressed. Here, we explore the existence of a specific form of anosognosia for apraxia in forty patients with uni-hemispheric vascular lesions. The patients were requested to imitate actions involving upper limb or bucco-facial body parts and then judge their performance. Successively, they were also asked to observe video recordings of the same actions performed by themselves or by other patients and judge the accuracy of the displayed actions. The comparison of participants versus examiner judgement and between error recognition of others' versus self's actions was considered as an index of awareness deficit for the online and offline conditions, respectively. Evidence was found that awareness deficits occurred both immediately after action execution (online anosognosia) and in the video recording task (offline anosognosia). Moreover, bucco-facial and limb apraxic patients were specifically unaware of their errors in bucco-facial and limb actions, respectively, indicating for the first time a topographical organization of the syndrome. Our approach allowed us to distinguish awareness deficits from more general disorders in error recognition; indeed, anosognosic patients were able to identify errors when the same action was executed by another patient but not when the video showed their own actions. Finally, we provide evidence that anosognosia for apraxia might be associated with frontal cortical and subcortical networks.

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