Temporal coupling due to illusory movements in bimanual actions: Evidence from anosognosia for hemiplegia

Lorenzo Pia, Lucia Spinazzola, Marco Rabuffetti, Maurizio Ferrarin, Francesca Garbarini, Alessandro Piedimonte, Jon Driver, Anna Berti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In anosognosia for hemiplegia, patients may claim having performed willed actions with the paralyzed limb despite unambiguous evidence to the contrary. Does this false belief of having moved reflect the functioning of the same mechanisms that govern normal motor performance? Here, we examined whether anosognosics show the same temporal constraints known to exist during bimanual movements in healthy subjects. In these paradigms, when participants simultaneously reach for two targets of different difficulties, the motor programs of one hand affect the execution of the other. In detail, the movement time of the hand going to an easy target (i.e., near and large), while the other is going to a difficult target (i.e., far and small), is slowed with respect to unimanual movements (temporal coupling effect). One right-brain-damaged patient with left hemiplegia and anosognosia, six right-brain-damaged patients with left hemiplegia without anosognosia, and twenty healthy subjects were administered such a bimanual task. We recorded the movement times for easy and difficult targets, both in unimanual (one target) and bimanual (two targets) conditions. We found that, as healthy subjects, the anosognosic patient showed coupling effect. In bimanual asymmetric conditions (when one hand went to the easy target and the other went to the difficult target), the movement time of the non-paralyzed hand going to the easy target was slowed by the 'pretended' movement of the paralyzed hand going to the difficult target. This effect was not present in patients without anosognosia. We concluded that in anosognosic patients, the illusory movements of the paralyzed hand impose to the non-paralyzed hand the same motor constraints that emerge during the actual movements. Our data also support the view that coupling relies on central operations (i.e., activation of intention/programming system), rather than on online information from the periphery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1694-1703
Number of pages10
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013


  • Anosognosia for hemiplegia
  • Bimanual coupling
  • Computers tests
  • Motor awareness
  • Motor intention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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