Abnormal dynamics of activation of object use information in apraxia: evidence from eyetracking

Chia-Iin Lee, Daniel Mirman, Laurel J Buxbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Action representations associated with object use may be incidentally activated during visual object processing, and the time course of such activations may be influenced by lexical-semantic context (e.g., Lee, Middleton, Mirman, Kalénine, & Buxbaum (2012). Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 39(1), 257-270). In this study we used the "visual world" eye-tracking paradigm to examine whether a deficit in producing skilled object-use actions (apraxia) is associated with abnormalities in incidental activation of action information, and assessed the neuroanatomical substrates of any such deficits. Twenty left hemisphere stroke patients, ten of whom were apraxic, performed a task requiring identification of a named object in a visual display containing manipulation-related and unrelated distractor objects. Manipulation relationships among objects were not relevant to the identification task. Objects were cued with neutral ("S/he saw the…."), or action-relevant ("S/he used the….") sentences. Non-apraxic participants looked at use-related non-target objects significantly more than at unrelated non-target objects when cued both by neutral and action-relevant sentences, indicating that action information is incidentally activated. In contrast, apraxic participants showed delayed activation of manipulation-based action information during object identification when cued by neutral sentences. The magnitude of delayed activation in the neutral sentence condition was reliably predicted by lower scores on a test of gesture production to viewed objects, as well as by lesion loci in the inferior parietal and posterior temporal lobes. However, when cued by a sentence containing an action verb, apraxic participants showed fixation patterns that were statistically indistinguishable from non-apraxic controls. In support of grounded theories of cognition, these results suggest that apraxia and temporal-parietal lesions may be associated with abnormalities in incidental activation of action information from objects. Further, they suggest that the previously-observed facilitative role of action verbs in the retrieval of object-related action information extends to participants with apraxia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-26
Number of pages14
Early online date16 Apr 2014
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014


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