Modulation of neglect hemianesthesia by transcutaneous electrical stimulation

Giuseppe Vallar, Maria Luisa Rusconi, Bruno Bernardini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The effects of transcutaneous electrical stimulation on deficits of tactile perception contralateral to a hemispheric lesion were investigated in 10 right brain-damaged patients and in four left brain-damaged patients. The somatosensory deficit recovered, transiently and in part, after stimulation of the side of the neck contralateral to the side of the lesion, in all 10 patients with lesions in the right hemisphere, both with (six cases) and without (four cases) left visuo-spatial hemineglect, and in one left brain-damaged patient with right hemineglect. In three left brain-damaged patients without hemineglect, the treatment had no detectable effects. In one right brain-damaged patient, the stimulation of the side of the neck ipsilateral to the side of the lesion temporarily worsened the somatosensory deficit. These effects of transcutaneous electrical stimulation are similar to those of vestibular stimulation. The suggestion is made that these treatments modulate, through afferent sensory pathways, higher-order spatial representations of the body, which are pathologically distorted toward the side of the lesion. The modulatory effect is direction-specific: the defective internal representation of the contralesional side may be either partly restored, improving the disorder of tactile perception, or further impoverished, worsening the deficit. The possible neural basis of this modulation is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)452-459
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the International Neuropsychological Society
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1996


  • Somatosensory deficits
  • Transcutaneous electrical stimulation
  • Visuo-spatial hemineglect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Neurology
  • Psychology(all)


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