Pantomime to visual presentation of objects: Left hand dyspraxia in patients with complete callosotomy

Lausberg, H., Cruz, R. F., Kita, S., Zaidel, E., & Ptito, A. (2003). Pantomime to visual presentation of objects: Left hand dyspraxia in patients with complete callosotomy. Brain, 126(2), 343-360. doi:10.1093/brain/awg042.
Investigations of left hand praxis in imitation and object use in patients with callosal disconnection have yielded divergent results, inducing a debate between two theoretical positions. Whereas Liepmann suggested that the left hemisphere is motor dominant, others maintain that both hemispheres have equal motor competences and propose that left hand apraxia in patients with callosal disconnection is secondary to left hemispheric specialization for language or other task modalities. The present study aims to gain further insight into the motor competence of the right hemisphere by investigating pantomime of object use in split-brain patients. Three patients with complete callosotomy and, as control groups, five patients with partial callosotomy and nine healthy subjects were examined for their ability to pantomime object use to visual object presentation and demonstrate object manipulation. In each condition, 11 objects were presented to the subjects who pantomimed or demonstrated the object use with either hand. In addition, six object pairs were presented to test bimanual coordination. Two independent raters evaluated the videotaped movement demonstrations. While object use demonstrations were perfect in all three groups, the split-brain patients displayed apraxic errors only with their left hands in the pantomime condition. The movement analysis of concept and execution errors included the examination of ipsilateral versus contralateral motor control. As the right hand/left hemisphere performances demonstrated retrieval of the correct movement concepts, concept errors by the left hand were taken as evidence for right hemisphere control. Several types of execution errors reflected a lack of distal motor control indicating the use of ipsilateral pathways. While one split-brain patient controlled his left hand predominantly by ipsilateral pathways in the pantomime condition, the error profile in the other two split-brain patients suggested that the right hemisphere controlled their left hands. In the object use condition, in all three split-brain patients fine-graded distal movements in the left hand indicated right hemispheric control. Our data show left hand apraxia in split-brain patients is not limited to verbal commands, but also occurs in pantomime to visual presentation of objects. As the demonstration with object in hand was unimpaired in either hand, both hemispheres must contain movement concepts for object use. However, the disconnected right hemisphere is impaired in retrieving the movement concept in response to visual object presentation, presumably because of a deficit in associating perceptual object representation with the movement concepts.
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