Lack of awareness for spatial and verbal constructive apraxia

Maria Cristina Rinaldi, Federica Piras, Luigi Pizzamiglio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It is still a matter of debate whether constructive apraxia (CA) should be considered a form of apraxia or, rather, the motor expression of a more pervasive impairment in visuo-spatial processing. Constructive disorders were linked to visuo-spatial disorders and to deficits in appreciating spatial relations among component sub-parts or problems in reproducing three-dimensionality. We screened a large population of brain-damaged patients for CA. Only patients with constructive disorders and no signs of neglect and/or aphasia were selected. Five apractic subjects were tested with both visuo-spatial and verbal tasks requiring constructive abilities. The former ones were tests such as design copying, while the latter were experimental tasks built to transpose into the linguistic domain the constructive process as phrasing by arranging paper scraps into a sentence. A first result showed a constructive impairment in both the visuo-spatial and the linguistic domain; this finding challenges the idea that CA is confined to the visuo-spatial domain. A second result showed a systematic association between CA and unawareness for constructive disorders. Third, lack of awareness was always associated with a lesion in the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, a region deemed as involved in managing a conflict between intentions and sensory feed-back. Anosognosia for constructive disorders and the potential role of the right prefrontal cortex in generating the impairment, are discussed in the light of current models of action control.The core of CA could be the inability to detect any inconsistency between intended and executed action rather than a deficit in reproducing spatial relationship.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1574-1582
Number of pages9
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - May 2010


  • Action control
  • Anosognosia
  • Constructive disorders
  • Dorso-lateral-prefrontal cortex
  • Unawareness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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