Injury to the parietal lobe, such as that following stroke, often leads to problems in visual-spatial processing. One of the disorders with symptoms relating to this type of deficit is Constructional Apraxia (CA). CA patients are unable to make copies of drawings or three-dimensional models, and may encounter severe difficulties in everyday life because of a failure to appreciate the spatial relationships of objects around them. Despite the fact that CA is a common result of right-parietal damage, there is currently little understanding of the mechanisms underlying this disorder. We propose to investigate two possible underlying causes of this distinctive form of apraxia. First, patients might suffer from a pathological constriction of their effective fie ld of vision under conditions with high attentional demand. Second, we will examine whether these patients might fail to correctly integrate spatial relationships of objects around them when they make saccadic eye movements. These possible underlying caus es will be systematically investigated with three complementary methods: Detailed analysis of behaviour with novel neuropsychological tests; high-resolution structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of patients lesions and functional MRI in healthy indiv iduals to examine neural substrates involved in related processes in the intact brain. Results will be relevant not only for CA but also for other disorders associated with right parietal injury (e.g. visuo-spatial neglect). We propose to complete these studies at the Santa Lucia Foundation in Rome. This would enable the applicant to benefit from the excellent facilities and expertise within this foundation. This will serve to enrich her experience in a European country other than her own.
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