[Networks involved in motor cognition : Physiology and pathophysiology of apraxia]

Nervenarzt. 2017 Aug;88(8):858-865. doi: 10.1007/s00115-017-0370-7.
[Article in German]


Apraxia is an umbrella term for different disorders of higher motor abilities that are not explained by elementary sensorimotor deficits (e. g. paresis or ataxia). Characteristic features of apraxia that are easy to recognize in clinical practice are difficulties in pantomimed or actual use of tools as well as in imitation of meaningless gestures. Apraxia is bilateral, explaining the cognitive motor disorders and occurs frequently (but not exclusively) after left hemispheric lesions, as well as in neurodegenerative diseases, such as corticobasal syndrome and Alzheimer's disease. Apraxic deficits can seriously impair activities of daily living, which is why the appropriate diagnosis is of great relevance. At the functional anatomical level, different cognitive motor skills rely on at least partly different brain networks, namely, a ventral processing pathway for semantic components, such as tool-action associations, a ventro-dorsal pathway for sensorimotor representations of learnt motor acts, as well as a dorso-dorsal pathway for on-line motor control and, probably, imitation of meaningless gestures. While these networks partially overlap with language-relevant regions, more clear cut dissociations are found between apraxia deficits and disorders of spatial attention. In addition to behavioral interventions, noninvasive neuromodulation approaches, as well as human-computer interface assistance systems are a growing focus of interest for the treatment of apraxia.

Keywords: Cognitive motor disorder; Functional neuroanatomy; Neurodegeneration; Neuropsychology; Ventral and dorsal pathways.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living / classification
  • Aphasia / classification
  • Aphasia / diagnosis
  • Aphasia / physiopathology
  • Aphasia / therapy
  • Apraxias / classification
  • Apraxias / diagnosis
  • Apraxias / physiopathology*
  • Apraxias / therapy
  • Cognition Disorders / classification
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cognition Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Cognition Disorders / therapy
  • Dementia / classification
  • Dementia / diagnosis
  • Dementia / physiopathology
  • Dementia / therapy
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Humans
  • Models, Neurological
  • Motor Skills / physiology*
  • Neural Pathways / physiopathology
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / classification
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / diagnosis
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / physiopathology
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / therapy
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Prognosis