My hands can´t move like that: Mental rotation of body parts in cerebral palsy subjects

Abstract

Implicit mental rotation tasks involving body parts have been shown to reflect biomechanical properties of the corresponding motor performance (Parsons, 1987, 2001). These findings have raised the issue of the involvement of motor representations, and not just visual ones, both in the simulation of body movements (Sirigu & Duhamel, 2000) and the mental rotation (MR) of other kinds of objects (de'Sperati & Stucchi, 2000). In this study our main question is to understand to what extent motor imagery underlies mental rotation outside the realm of body segments and how MR works among subjects who were never able to experience physical rotations of certain parts of the body, as cerebral palsy subjects. Main outcomes go as follows: both groups exhibit a similar pattern of constraints on the hands task; longer response times are displayed by the CP group on both tasks; overall, an effect of severe motility impairment on mental rotation of non-body objects seems warranted, translating primarily in a lowered speed of letter rotation.


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