September 1970

Autotopagnosia: Fiction or Reality?Report of a Case

Author Affiliations

Milan, Italy
From the Clinic for Nervous and Mental Diseases, University of Milan, Milan, Italy. Dr. De Renzi is now with the Clinic for Nervous and Mental Diseases, University of Trieste, Trieste, Italy.

Arch Neurol. 1970;23(3):221-227. doi:10.1001/archneur.1970.00480270031005

IN 1908 and 1922, Pick1,2 described two patients suffering respectively from senile dementia and internal hydrocephalus, who made striking errors in pointing to various parts of the body on verbal command, although they recognized the part as soon as their hand happened to touch it. It was Pick's opinion that this symptom, which he called autotopographia or autotopagnosia, could not be accounted for by aphasia, apraxia, or general dementia, and that it reflected the impairment of a discrete ability, the body image (Vorstellungsbild des Körpers).

Since Pick, very few cases of autotopagnosia have been reported.3-8 Nevertheless, this symptom is regularly mentioned in all discussions on disorders of corporeal awareness because it seems to represent the most complete and convincing example of disorientation of the human body and, thus, it apparently provides strong support to the reality of the concept of "body schema." Although this notion is far

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