Dissociation of sensory-attentional from motor-intentional neglect

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Abstract

Objectives

Spatial neglect may result from disruption of sensory-attentional systems that spatially allocate perceptual resources and the motor-intentional systems that direct exploration and action. Previous studies have suggested that the line bisection task is more sensitive to sensory-attentional disorders and the cancellation task to motor-intentional disorders. A new technique was developed that allows the dissociation of sensory-attentional and motor-intentional deficits in both tasks and thereby allows comparison of these tasks.

Methods

Ten patients with right hemispheric injury and hemispatial neglect performed line bisection and cancellation tasks while viewing stimuli on closed circuit TV. Direct view of the exploring hand and the target was precluded; the TV monitor guided performance. The direct condition made the direction of hand movement on the table (workspace) congruent with that on the monitor. Inverting the camera produced the indirect condition wherein the lateral movement in the workspace occurred in the opposite direction on the monitor.

Results

On the cancellation task, five patients marked targets in the right workspace in the direct condition but the left workspace in the indirect condition, indicating sensory-attentional neglect. However, four other patients cancelled targets only in the right workspace in both conditions, failing to explore the left workspace, suggesting motor-intentional neglect. A patient who performed ambiguously may have elements of both types of neglect. Only two out of five patients designated as sensory-attentional in cancellation tasks showed sensory neglect on line bisection. The other three patients, as well as patients defined as motor-intentional by cancellation performance, exhibited motor-intentional neglect on line bisection.

Conclusion

The designation of sensory-attentional versus motor-intentional neglect therefore, in part, depends on task specific demands.

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