Leftward Bias of Visual Attention in Patients with End-Stage Renal Disease Receiving Dialysis: A Neglected Phenomenon

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Abstract

Background and Objective:

Patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) who are receiving dialysis often have cognitive and behavioral changes, including impairments in sustained attention. Impairments in sustained attention appear to be the consequence of right hemisphere dysfunction. Right hemisphere brain networks are also important for the allocation of spatial attention. Therefore, the objective of this study was to learn whether patients with ESRD receiving dialysis might also have a spatial attentional bias.

Participants and Methods:

Eighteen nondemented patients with ESRD receiving dialysis but without any neurologic diseases (age range: 20 to 60 years) and 18 demographically matched healthy controls participated in this study. Participants performed a standard line bisection task using 24 horizontal lines (24 cm long and 2 mm thick) that were sequentially placed at eye level on a white board.

Results:

Patients receiving dialysis had a significantly greater leftward bias than healthy controls.

Conclusions:

Patients with ESRD receiving dialysis appear to have an impaired ability to correctly allocate their spatial attention (spatial neglect). Although the reason for the patients’ leftward bias needs to be elucidated, ESRD and/or dialysis may have induced right frontal-subcortical dysfunction that disinhibited the right parietal lobe, producing a left-sided attentional bias. Further studies are needed to test this hypothesis.

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