Loss of agency in apraxia

Mariella Pazzaglia, Giulia Galli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The feeling of acting voluntarily is a fundamental component of human behavior and social life and is usually accompanied by a sense of agency. However, this ability can be impaired in a number of diseases and disorders. An important example is apraxia, a disturbance traditionally defined as a disorder of voluntary skillful movements that often results from frontal-parietal brain damage. The first part of this article focuses on direct evidence of some core symptoms of apraxia, emphasizing those with connections to agency and free will. The loss of agency in apraxia is reflected in the monitoring of internally driven action, in the perception of specifically self-intended movements and in the neural intention to act. The second part presents an outline of the evidences supporting the functional and anatomical link between apraxia and agency. The available structural and functional results converge to reveal that the frontal-parietal network contributes to the sense of agency and its impairment in disorders such as apraxia. The current knowledge on the generation of motor intentions and action monitoring could potentially be applied to develop therapeutic strategies for the clinical rehabilitation of voluntary action.

Original languageEnglish
Article number751
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - Sep 23 2014


  • Action
  • Agency
  • Apraxia
  • fMRI
  • Rehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Neurology
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology


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