Mirror apraxia affects the peripersonal mirror space. A combined lesion and cerebral activation study

Ferdinand Binkofski, Andrew Butler, Giovanni Buccino, Wolfgang Heide, Gereon Fink, Hans Joachim Freund, Rüdiger J. Seitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mirror apraxia is a condition in which patients with lesions of the posterior parietal cortex have deficits in reaching to objects presented through a mirror. The aim of the present study was to investigate possible mechanisms underlying this disorder. First, we addressed the question of whether mirror apraxia is exhibited to the same extent in peripersonal and in body space. Four patients with lesions of the posterior parietal lobe on either side and with marked mirror apraxia were required to reach for objects that were presented to them through a mirror and located either in body space (i.e. on the body surface) or in peripersonal space (i.e. in the reaching distance). Whereas reaching for objects located in body space was flawless in all patients, the performance deteriorated when the same objects were transferred to the peripersonal space. Although the objects were located only a few centimetres above the body surface, the patients reached towards the virtual object in the mirror. Based on these results we suggest that mirror apraxia may originate from a dissociation between the representations of body schema and peripersonal space and that objects located on the body surface become integrated into the body schema. In the second part of the study, using positron emission tomography study (PET), we studied the cerebral activation pattern during reaching to objects presented through a mirror in the peripersonal space in healthy subjects. The results show that increased neural activity in the anterior part of the intraparietal sulcus and in the dorsal premotor cortex was bound to the transformation of the target position from the mirror space to the real space. In contrast, the activity related to object localization in the mirror occurred at the parieto-occipital junction. Both mirror and arm transformation involved the medial posterior part of the superior parietal lobule, putatively area V6a. The results demonstrate that acting through a mirror is processed in a number of cortical areas of the dorsal stream.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)210-219
Number of pages10
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2003


  • Body space
  • Mirror apraxia
  • Neuroimaging
  • Peripersonal space
  • Reaching

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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