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Neuropsychologia. 2006;44(13):2734-48. Epub 2006 Jun 6.

No double-dissociation between optic ataxia and visual agnosia: multiple sub-streams for multiple visuo-manual integrations.

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INSERM UMR-S 534, Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, and Université Claude Bernard-Lyon, Espace et Action, Bron, France.


The current dominant view of the visual system is marked by the functional and anatomical dissociation between a ventral stream specialised for perception and a dorsal stream specialised for action. The "double-dissociation" between visual agnosia (VA), a deficit of visual recognition, and optic ataxia (OA), a deficit of visuo-manual guidance, considered as consecutive to ventral and dorsal damage, respectively, has provided the main argument for this dichotomic view. In the first part of this paper, we show that the currently available empirical data do not suffice to support a double-dissociation between OA and VA. In the second part, we review evidence coming from human neuropsychology and monkey data, which cast further doubts on the validity of a simple double-dissociation between perception and action because they argue for a far more complex organisation with multiple parallel visual-to-motor connections: 1. A dorso-dorsal pathway (involving the most dorsal part of the parietal and pre-motor cortices): for immediate visuo-motor control--with OA as typical disturbance. The latest research about OA is reviewed, showing how these patients exhibit deficits restricted to the most direct and fast visuo-motor transformations. We also propose that mild mirror ataxia, consisting of misreaching errors when the controlesional hand is guided to a visual goal though a mirror, could correspond to OA with an isolated "hand effect". 2. A ventral stream-prefrontal pathway (connections from the ventral visual stream to pre-frontal areas, by-passing the parietal areas): for "mediate" control (involving spatial or temporal transpositions [Rossetti, Y., & Pisella, L. (2003). Mediate responses as direct evidence for intention: Neuropsychology of Not to-, Not now- and Not there-tasks. In S. Johnson (Ed.), Cognitive Neuroscience perspectives on the problem of intentional action (pp. 67-105). MIT Press.])--with VA as typical disturbance. Preserved visuo-manual guidance in patients with VA is restricted to immediate goal-directed guidance, they exhibit deficits for delayed or pantomimed actions. 3. A ventro-dorsal pathway (involving the more ventral part of the parietal lobe and the pre-motor and pre-frontal areas): for complex planning and programming relying on high representational levels with a more bilateral organisation or an hemispheric lateralisation--with mirror apraxia, limb apraxia and spatial neglect as representatives. Mirror apraxia is a deficit that affects both hands after unilateral inferior parietal lesion with the patients reaching systematically and repeatedly toward the virtual image in the mirror. Limb apraxia is localized on a more advanced conceptual level of object-related actions and results from deficient integrative, computational and "working memory" capacities of the left inferior parietal lobule. A component of spatial working memory has recently been revealed also in spatial neglect consecutive to lesion involving the network of the right inferior parietal lobule and the right frontal areas. We conclude by pointing to the differential temporal constraints and integrative capabilities of these parallel visuo-motor pathways as keys to interpret the neuropsychological deficits.

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