The spatial distribution of perseverations in neglect patients during a nonverbal fluency task depends on the integrity of the right putamen

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Abstract

Deficient inhibitory control leading to perseverative behaviour is often observed in neglect patients. Previous studies investigating the relationship between response inhibition and visual attention have reported contradictory results: some studies found a linear relationship between neglect severity and perseverative behaviour whereas others could not replicate this result. The aim of the present study was to shed further light on the interplay between visual attention and response inhibition in neglect, and to investigate the neural underpinnings of this interplay. We propose the use of the Five-Point Test, a test commonly used to asses nonverbal fluency, as a novel approach in the context of neglect. In the Five-Point Test, participants are required to generate as many different designs as possible, by connecting dots within forty rectangles. We hypothesised that, because of its clear definition of perseverative errors, the Five-Point Test would accurately assess both visual attention as well as perseverative behaviour. We assessed 46 neglect patients with right-hemispheric stroke, and performed voxel-based lesion-symptom mapping (VLSM) to identify neural substrates of perseverative behaviour as well as the spatial distribution of perseverations. Our results showed that the Five-Point Test can reliably measure neglect and perseverative behaviour. We did not find any significant relationship between neglect severity and the frequency of perseverations. However, within the subgroup of neglect patients who displayed perseverative behaviour, the spatial distribution of perseverations significantly depended on the integrity of the right putamen. We discuss the putative role of the putamen as a potential subcortical hub to modulate the complex integration between visual attention and response inhibition processes.

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