|| Checking for direct PDF access through Ovid
Unilateral spatial neglect (USN) is considered to be an attention deficit, which is primarily related to space. Recent evidence points to the relevance of non-spatially lateralized mechanisms, with impairments found in rapid stimulus presentation conditions. Here we used the phenomenon of binocular rivalry (BR) to explore a non-spatial deficit over long temporal intervals. Six right-hemisphere damaged (RHD) patients with contralesional neglect (USN+), five RHD patients without neglect (USN−) and six normal controls were tested on the basic properties of BR induced by dichoptic presentation of orthogonal gratings at fixation. USN+ patients had much slower perceptual alternations compared to the USN− and normal groups (factors 2.5 and 4, respectively), and were much more sensitive to inter-ocular changes in relative stimulus contrast, which, unlike normals, altered both the suppression and dominance phases. Most notably, a small advantage of one monocular stimulus caused a long-term extinction of the other stimulus in the USN+ group alone. We explain the results in terms of impaired habituation to dominant and attended stimuli, which normally prevents a winner-takes-all behavior and extinction of the weak. This impaired habituation may in turn contribute to inappropriate environmental monitoring and attenuated novelty-seeking behavior.