Dissociable cognitive and neural mechanisms of unilateral visual neglect

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Abstract

Article abstract

We administered two experimental tasks to 16 patients with neglect following unilateral right hemisphere strokes, designed to probe processing of information in the neglected left visual field. A semantic primingflexical decision task examined implicit processing of stimuli presented to the neglected field, and a discrimination task required explicit recognition of the same stimuli. We grouped patients according to three patterns of performance: (1) poor discrimination in the left visual field but intact priming, (2) normal priming and discrimination in both fields, and (3) normal priming but poor discrimination in both fields. Although patients in group 1 had posterior lesions, patients in groups 2 and 3 had extensive deep anterior lesions. These results suggest that the clinical phenomenon of unilateral visual neglect can be the surface manifestation of deficits in two different and interacting processes—attentional processes (group 1) and intentional processes (group 2)—or it may be a global attentional disturbance superimposed on these deficits (group 3).

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