Pure optic ataxia and visual hemiagnosia – extending the dual visual hypothesis

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Goodale and Milner's two visual system hypothesis is an influential model for the understanding of the primate visual system. Lesions of either the ventral (occipito-temporal) or the dorsal (occipito-parietal) stream produce distinct and dissociated syndromes in humans: visual agnosia is typical for ventral damage, whereas optic ataxia (OA) for dorsal damage. We studied the case of a 59-year-old left-handed woman with a circumscribed lesion around the left posterior occipital sulcus, extending to the underlying white matter. Initially, she presented with a central visual field OA, which regressed to an OA to the right visual hemifield during the 3 months observation period. In addition, tachistoscopic experiments showed visual hemiagnosia to the right visual hemifield. In line with the findings of the neuropsychological experiments, the analysis of the structural MR data by means of a trackwise hodologic probabilistic approach revealed damage to the left superior longitudinal fasciculus and to the left inferior longitudinal fasciculus, indicating an impairment of both the dorsal and the ventral stream. The combination of OA and visual hemiagnosia in the same patient has never been previously described. The present case study thus provides further insights for the understanding of visual processing.

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