Recent evidence in healthy participants suggests that a motor subcomponent of working memory (mWM) may exist. We investigated whether this mWM is impaired in patients with a motor-dominant left hemisphere (LH) stroke and apraxia. Furthermore, we hypothesized that a deficient mWM contributes to deficits in motor cognition, that is, apraxia, in LH stroke. The study included 52 patients with LH stroke and 25 age-matched controls. Patients were classified into LH stroke patients with and without apraxia based on deficits in gesture imitation and object use. All participants were examined using the block span test (visuospatial WM), the digit span test (verbal WM), and a novel mWM task. In the latter, participants were presented with static pictures depicting three different actions: actions with objects, meaningless actions, and meaningful actions. In the mWM task, LH stroke patients with apraxia performed worse than age-matched controls. Notably, LH stroke patients with apraxia showed more pronounced mWM deficits than those without apraxia. These results remained significant even after controlling for visuospatial and verbal WM deficits. Regression analyses revealed that LH stroke patients' mWM deficits predicted deficits in imitation. Data provide neuropsychological evidence for a motor subsystem of WM and suggest that deficits in mWM contribute to the severity of apraxia in LH stroke patients.

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