Progressive ideomotor apraxia - evidence for a selective impairment of the action production system

Steven Z. Rapcsak, Cynthia Ochipa, Kathleen C. Anderson, Howard Poizner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


We report a patient with slowly progressive bilateral limb apraxial associated with an asymmetrical focal degenerative process of the parietal lobes. Clinical assessment of praxis production suggested a striking deficit in controlling the spatiotemporal attributes of purposeful skilled limb movements, consistent with ideomotor apraxia. The precise nature of the action production impairment was further defined by objective three-dimensional computergraphic analysis of transitive movements which demonstrated significant kinematic deficits in spatial accuracy, timing, spatiotemporal coupling, and joint coordination. Gesture comprehension and discrimination were spared. Furthermore, detailed evaluation of the conceptual praxis system revealed that despite an almost complete inability to perform transitive movements accurately, abstract knowledge of tool function and action was remarkably well preserved. The critical dissociation between intact conceptual knowledge of action and impaired movement execution documented in this case points to a fundamental competence/performance dichotomy in apraxia and provides empirical support for cognitive models of praxis that divide the action system into distinct conceptual and production subcomponents. Within this theoretical framework, our patients severe ideomotor apraxia is interpreted to represent a selective disruption of the action production system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)213-236
Number of pages24
JournalBrain and Cognition
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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