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Proc Biol Sci. May 22, 1997; 264(1382): 645–647.
PMCID: PMC1688417
Mirror agnosia.
V S Ramachandran, E L Altschuler, and S Hillyer
Brain and Perception Laboratory, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla 92093-0109, USA. vramacha@ucsd.edu
Abstract
Normal people rarely confuse the mirror image of an object with a real object so long as they realize they are looking into a mirror. We report a new neurological sign, 'mirror agnosia', following right parietal lesions in which this ability is severely compromised. We studied four right hemisphere stroke patients who had left visual field 'neglect'. i.e. they were indifferent to objects in their left visual field even though they were not blind. We then placed a vertical parasagittal mirror on each patients' right so that they could clearly see the reflection of objects placed in the (neglected) visual field. When shown a candy or pen on their left, the patients kept banging their hand into the mirror or groped behind it attempting to grab the reflection; they did not reach for the real object on the left, even though they were mentally quite lucid and knew they were looking into a mirror. Remarkably, all four patients kept complaining that the object was 'in the mirror', 'outside my reach' or 'behind the mirror'. Thus, even the patients' ability to make simple logical inferences about mirrors has been selectively warped to accommodate the strange new sensory world that they now inhabit. The finding may have implications for understanding how the brain creates representations of mirror reflections.
Articles from Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences are provided here courtesy of
The Royal Society