The ‘healthy side’ of anosognosia for hemiplegia: Increased sense of agency for the unimpaired limb or motor compensation?

Cocchini, Gianna; Scandola, Michele; Gobetto, Valeria; Cioffi, Maria Cristina; Bartolo, Angela; Moore, James W. and Moro, Valentina. 2022. The ‘healthy side’ of anosognosia for hemiplegia: Increased sense of agency for the unimpaired limb or motor compensation? Neuropsychologia, 177, 108421. ISSN 0028-3932 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Objectives. Anosognosic patients show a lack of awareness for their hemiplegia coupled with a distorted sense of agency for the actions performed by the plegic limbs. Since anosognosia is often associated with right brain damage, this hemisphere seems to play a dominant role in monitoring awareness for motor actions. Therefore, we would expect that anosognosic patients show distorted awareness and sense of agency also for actions performed with the unimpaired limb.

Method. To test this hypothesis, we induced illusory actions that could be congruent or incongruent with a preceding verbal command. A group of 16 right brain-damaged patients performed this task and then rated i) their ability to anticipate the actions, ii) their sense of agency and iii) their sense of ownership for each limb. Measures of awareness, neglect and motor impairment were also considered for the patient group.

Results. Following incongruent actions with the unimpaired limb, less aware patients showed a relatively mild distortion in all three aspects. In addition, we also found a crucial relationship between motor impairment (for the plegic limb) and sense of agency for both plegic and healthy limbs.

Conclusion. Although the distortion linked to both limbs supports the initial hypothesis that the right hemisphere is responsible for monitoring awareness for action for the whole body, our data also suggest that the observed distortion may be linked to a motor compensatory phenomenon, not necessarily related to awareness processes.

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Data and materials availability. The data and the scripts for the analyses are available online (


anosognosia, awareness, sense of agency, sense of ownership, motor monitoring

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Psychology > Cognitive Neuroscience Unit


7 November 2022Accepted
14 November 2022Published Online
December 2022Published

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Date Deposited:

08 Nov 2022 16:19

Last Modified:

24 Nov 2022 13:50

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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