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Neural representations of skilled movement


The frontal and parietal cortex are intimately involved in the representation of goal-directed movements, but the crucial neuroanatomical sites are not well established in humans. In order to identify these sites more precisely, we studied stroke patients who had the classic syndrome of ideomotor limb apraxia, which disrupts goal-directed movements, such as writing or brushing teeth. Patients with and without limb apraxia were identified by assessing errors imitating gestures and specifying a cut-off for apraxia relative to a normal control group. We then used MRI or CT for lesion localization and compared areas of overlap in those patients with and without limb apraxia. Patients with ideomotor limb apraxia had damage lateralized to a left hemispheric network involving the middle frontal gyrus and intraparietal sulcus region. Thus, the results revealed that discrete areas in the left hemisphere of humans are critical for control of complex goal-directed movements.

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