It has been suggested that the movement impairments experienced by patients with neglect are not restricted to spatial disorders, but also affect higher-order kinematics (velocity and acceleration) to the extent that movements towards the neglected side are slower than movements away from it. In a recent study, we could not confirm this hypothesis, but found that patients with unilateral neglect exhibited no distinct direction-specific deficits in hand velocity when performing goal-directed reaching movements. Here we investigated whether neglect patients might reveal direction-specific deficits during exploratory hand movements. Six patients with left-sided neglect and six age-matched healthy control subjects scanned with their right hands the surface of a large table searching for a (non-existent) tactile target. Movements were performed in darkness. Time-position data of the hand were recorded with an optoelectronic camera system. Median activity of the patients' exploratory hand movements was shifted to the right. Hand trajectories were partitioned into sections of leftward/rightward or, along the sagittal plane, into sections of near/far movements. For each movement section average and peak velocities were computed. The patients' hand movements were bradykinetic when compared with the control group. However, we found no evidence that average or peak velocities of leftward intervals were systematically lower than during rightward motion. Direction-specific deficits in velocity were also not observed for movements to and away from the body (sagittal plane). In conclusion, we found evidence for general bradykinesia in neglect patients but not for a direction-specific deficit in the control of hand velocity during exploratory hand movements.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Acknowledgements This work was supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Science Foundation), Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (GIS de la Cognition), and Hospices Civils de Lyon.
- Arm movements
- Directional bradykinesia
- Motor control
- Movement planning
- Parietal cortex