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Neuropsychologia. 2013 Jun;51(7):1224-33. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2013.03.017. Epub 2013 Apr 6.

Dissociations of action means and outcome processing in left-hemisphere stroke.

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Moss Rehabilitation Research Institute, 50 Township Line Road, Elkins Park, PA 19027, United States.


Previous evidence suggests that distinct fronto-parietal regions may be involved in representing action kinematics (means) and action results (outcome) during action observation. However, the evidence is contradictory with respect to the precise regions that are critical for each type of representation. Additionally unknown is the degree to which ability to detect action means and outcome during observation is related to action production performance. We used a behavioral task to evaluate the ability of healthy and left-hemisphere stroke participants to detect differences between pairs of videos that dissociated object-related action means (e.g., wiping with circular or straight movement) and/or outcome (e.g., applying or removing detergent). We expected that deficits in detecting action means would be associated with spatiomotor gesture production deficits, whereas deficits in detecting action outcome would predict impairments in complex naturalistic action. We also hypothesized a posterior to anterior gradient in the regions critical for each type of representation, disproportionately affecting means and outcome encoding, respectively. Results indicated that outcome--but not means--detection predicted naturalistic action performance in stroke participants. Regression and voxel lesion-symptom mapping analyses of lesion data revealed that means--but not outcome--coding relies on the integrity of the left inferior parietal lobe, whereas no selective critical brain region could be identified for outcome detection. Thus, means and outcome representations are dissociable at both the behavioral and neuroanatomical levels. Furthermore, the data are consistent with a degree of parallelism between action perception and production tasks. Finally, they reinforce the evidence for a critical role of the left inferior parietal lobule in the representation of action means, whereas action outcome may rely on a more distributed neural circuit.

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