Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) is thought to be characterized by cognitive deficits affecting patients’ ability to represent, perceive and use their affected limb as well as its surrounding space. This has been tested, among others, by straight-ahead tasks testing oneself’s egocentric representation, but such experiments lead to inconsistent results. Because spatial cognitive abilities encompass various processes, we completed such evaluations by varying the sensory inputs used to perform the task. CRPS and matched control participants were asked to assess their own body midline either visually (i.e. by means of a moving visual cue) or manually (i.e. by straight-ahead pointing with one of their upper-limbs) and to reach and point to visual targets at different spatial locations. While the two former tasks only required one single sensory input to be performed (i.e. either visual or proprioceptive), the latter task was based on the ability to coordinate perception of the position of one’s own limb with visuospatial perception. However, in this latter task, limb position could only be estimated by proprioception, as vision of the limb was prevented. Whereas in the two former tasks CRPS participants’ performance was not different from that of controls, they made significantly more deviations errors during the visuospatial task, regardless of the limb used to point or the direction of pointing. Results suggests that CRPs patients are not specifically characterized by difficulties in representing their body but, more particularly, in integrating somatic information (i.e. proprioception) during visually-guided movements of the limb.

References

PubMed