Hemispatial neglect is a neurological disorder which entails a spatial bias that penalizes events occurring in the hemispace contralateral to a brain lesion. Mechanisms operating upon various stages ranging from perception to action have been invoked to explain neglect. The present study explores the contribution of a defective programming of arm movements towards the neglected hemispace to neglect behaviour. Two reaction time tasks - a 'perceptual' task and a 'motor' task - were performed by right brain-damaged (RBD) patients with left hemispatial neglect, RBD patients without signs of neglect and control subjects. The perceptual task consisted of lateralized visual stimuli and central motor responses, whereas the motor task consisted of visual stimuli presented on the vertical midline and hand responses to be produced in either hemispace. Neglect patients showed a rightward bias on the perceptual task, but only two RBD patients (showing no signs of severe neglect) were consistently slowed in producing leftward motor responses. Different reference frames may thus be used in perceptual tasks and tasks involving arm movements. We conclude that hemispatial neglect commonly results from attentional impairments operating upon a visual perceptual frame of reference; additional deficits appear to be necessary to produce a directional motor disorder.
- Directional hypokinesia
- Spatial reference frames
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Behavioral Neuroscience
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology