Motor sequence learning in patients with ideomotor apraxia: Effects of long-term training

Sarah Willms, Miriam Abel, Avi Karni, Carmit Gal, Julien Doyon, Bradley R. King, Joseph Classen, Jost Julian Rumpf, Giovanni Buccino, Antonello Pellicano, Juliane Klann, Ferdinand Binkofski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent studies show that limb apraxia is a quite frequent, yet often underdiagnosed, higher motor impairment following stroke. Because it adversely affects every-day life and personal independence, successful rehabilitation of apraxia is essential for personal well-being. Nevertheless, evidence of long-term efficacy of training schemes and generalization to untrained actions is still scarce. One possible reason for the tendency of this neurological disorder to persist may be a deficit in planning, conceptualisation and storage of complex motor acts. This pilot study aims at investigating explicit motor learning in apractic stroke patients. In particular, we addressed the ability of apractic patients to learn and to retain new explicit sequential finger movements across 10 training sessions over a 3-week interval. Nine stroke patients with ideomotor apraxia in its chronic stage participated in a multi-session training regimen and were included in data analyses. Patients performed an explicit finger sequence learning task (MSLT – motor sequence learning task), which is a well-established paradigm to investigate motor learning and memory processes. Patients improved task performance in terms of speed and accuracy across sessions. Specifically, they showed a noticeable reduction in the mean time needed to perform a correct sequence and the number of erroneous sequences. We found also a trend for improved performance at the Goldenberg apraxia test protocol: “imitation of meaningless hand and finger gestures” relative to when assessed before the MSLT training. Patients with ideomotor apraxia demonstrated the ability to acquire and maintain a novel sequence of movements; and, this training was associated with hints towards improvement of apraxia symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107921
StatePublished - 20 Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s)


  • Apraxia
  • chronic stroke
  • long term training
  • motor memory
  • motor sequence learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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