Optic ataxia is not only 'optic': impaired spatial integration of proprioceptive information.
Blangero A., Ota H., Delporte L., Revol P., Vindras P., Rode G., Boisson D., Vighetto A., Rossetti Y., Pisella L.
Optic ataxia is considered to be a specific visuo-manual guidance deficit, which combines pointing errors due to the use of the contralesional hand ("hand effect") and to the presentation of the visual target in the contralesional field ("field effect"). The nature of the hand effect has not been identified. The field effect is acknowledged as an impaired spatial integration of visual target location. However, spatial integration of proprioceptive information from the arm has never been experimentally tested in these patients. Here, we specifically investigated the capacity of two patients with unilateral optic ataxia in tasks requiring different levels of proprioceptive integration from primary information processing to proprioceptivo-motor integration. In a first experiment -proprioceptive pointing with the ipsilesional hand toward the index finger of the contralesional hand- revealed a large mislocalisation of the ataxic hand accounting for the hand effect. In a second experiment -proprioceptive pointing with the ataxic arm toward the finger of the ipsilesional hand- revealed reaching errors for non-visual targets, i.e. optic ataxia is not specific to 'optic' targets. Altogether, the present results call for a redefinition of this neurological condition in the framework of parietal functions.