An experimental investigation of the automatic/voluntary dissociation in limb apraxia

Luigi Trojano, Ludovica Labruna, Dario Grossi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The ability of apraxic patients to perform gestures in everyday life is a controversial issue. In this paper, we aimed to evaluate the automatic/voluntary dissociation (AVD) in four patients affected by clinically relevant limb apraxia. For this purpose, we sampled different kinds of gestures belonging to patients' motor repertoire and then assessed their production in a testing session. Our experimental procedure consisted of two steps: in the first phase, we recorded gestures produced by patients in two natural conditions; in the second phase, we assessed production of correctly produced tool-actions, and of spontaneous non tool-actions and meaningless conversational (cohesive and beats) gestures under different modalities. AVD was observed for all types of gestures, albeit to different degree in single patients. The present findings demonstrate that the context provides strong bottom-up cues for the retrieval of motor patterns, while artificial testing conditions impose an additional cognitive load.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-176
Number of pages8
JournalBrain and Cognition
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2007


  • Apraxia
  • Automatic/voluntary dissociation
  • Brain lesion
  • Ecological condition
  • Gestures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology


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