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Cogn Neuropsychol. 2007 Dec;24(8):795-816.

What is the role of motor simulation in action and object recognition? Evidence from apraxia.

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  • 1Cognitive Neuroscience Sector, Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzati, Trieste, Italy.


An important issue in contemporary cognitive neuroscience concerns the role of motor production processes in perceptual and conceptual analysis. To address this issue, we studied the performance of a large group of unilateral stroke patients across a range of tasks using the same set of common manipulable objects. All patients (n = 37) were tested for their ability to demonstrate the use of the objects, recognize the objects, recognize the corresponding object-associated pantomimes, and imitate those same pantomimes. At the group level we observed reliable correlations between object use and pantomime recognition, object use and object recognition, and pantomime imitation and pantomime recognition. At the single-case level, we document that the ability to recognize actions and objects dissociates from the ability to use those same objects. These data are problematic for the hypothesis that motor processes are constitutively involved in the recognition of actions and objects and frame new questions about the inferences that are merited by recent findings in cognitive neuroscience.

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