Greater sparing of visual search abilities in children after congenital rather than acquired focal brain damage

Francesca Tinelli, Andrea Guzzetta, Caterina Bertini, Daniela Ricci, Eugenio Mercuri, Elisabetta Ladavas, Giovanni Cioni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background. Visual search refers to the capacity of an individual to find a target among simultaneously presented distracters and is based on visual abilities such as a fast visual processing and an accurate control of ballistic eye movements (saccades) that guide the fovea to the target location. Objective. In adults, visual field defects caused by brain damage are often associated with visual search disorders; in children, little is known about the effects of early brain lesions on visual search abilities. Methods. To test the presence of visual search defects and to investigate the role of cortical plasticity after early brain lesions, 29 children with congenital or acquired cerebral lesions, with and without visual field defects, underwent a visual search test battery. Results. The children with acquired lesions and visual field defects had longer reaction times (RTs) in the contralesional visual field compared with the ipsilesional, whereas those with congenital lesions and visual field defects did not have differences in RTs between the contralateral and ipsilateral visual fields and had a visual search pattern similar to children without a visual field defect. Conclusions. These findings support the hypothesis of more effective mechanisms of functional compensation and reorganization of the visual system in children with very early brain lesions, as opposed to those with later damage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)721-728
Number of pages8
JournalNeurorehabilitation and Neural Repair
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011


  • brain plasticity
  • brain reorganization
  • early brain lesion
  • hemianopia
  • visual exploration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Rehabilitation
  • Neurology


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