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Exp Brain Res. 2003 Nov;153(2):171-9. Epub 2003 Sep 12.

Optic ataxia revisited: visually guided action versus immediate visuomotor control.

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  • 1Espace et Action, Unité 534, Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, 16 avenue Lépine, Case 13, 69676 Bron, France.


Optic ataxia and visual agnosia have been proposed to constitute a double dissociation which provides the main argument for the assimilation of the anatomical distinction between a dorsal and a ventral visual stream to the functional distinction between perception and action. In the present review, we argue that insufficient evidence has been collected to argue for this double dissociation. Several criteria are reviewed: (1) exploration of the visuomotor behavior in central versus peripheral vision has not been matched for the two types of patients; (2) the temporal constraints of visual processes that are impaired in the two neurological conditions appear to play a crucial role in the apparent dissociation; (3) the necessary reductionism of experimental conditions used to study action has led to an overconsideration of optic ataxia as a global deficit for action. Altogether optic ataxia appears to result from a specific impairment of immediate visuomotor control rather than of visually guided action as a whole. These results are discussed in the light of recent research on optic ataxia and on motor control, and directions for future research are proposed.

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