Kinematics of goal-directed arm movements in neglect: Control of hand in space

Hans Otto Karnath, Heinke Dick, Jürgen Konczak

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50 Scopus citations


The present study investigated unrestrained, three-dimensional arm movements during goal-directed pointing in five patients with clinically manifest neglect to targets positioned either in the center or the left and right hemispace. Five patients with unilateral right hemispheric lesions without neglect and six healthy subjects served as controls. All subjects were able to point to these targets. Terminal accuracy of pointing did not differ between the three groups along the horizontal, vertical and anterior-posterior axis. Subjects' hand trajectories did not reveal direction-specific deviations from a straightline hand path. Our data show that deviations in the trajectories toward the ipsilesional side are not characteristic for patients with spatial neglect. We argue that exploratory and goal-directed motor behavior might not share the same egocentric, body-centered reference frame. A spatial reference frame for exploratory behavior is disturbed in patients with neglect resulting in a failure to explore the contralesional part of space by eye or limb movements. Its failure does not induce a spatial bias in hand trajectory formation during goal-directed arm movements in peripersonal space. Such deviations of reaching or pointing rather seem to be characteristic for patients with optic ataxia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)435-444
Number of pages10
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 28 1997
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
H.-O. Karnath was supported by grants from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (KA 1258/1-1) and the Bundesministerium für Bildung, Wissenschaft, Forschung und Technologie (01KO9501/III6). J. Konczak was supported by SFB 307/A3 of Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. We wish to thank J. Dichgans, A. D. Milner, M.-T. Perenin, and the reviewers for their helpful comments on the manuscript.


  • Arm movements
  • Brain damage
  • Endpoint kinematics
  • Human
  • Parietal lobe
  • Spatial neglect


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