Right Brain-Damaged patients (RBD) with left spatial neglect (N+), are characterised by deficits in orienting and re-orienting attention to stimuli in the contralesional left side of space. In a recent ERPs study with visual stimuli (Lasaponara et al., 2018) we have pointed out that the pathological attentional bias of N+ is matched with exaggerated novelty reaction and contextual updating of targets in the right ipsilesional space and reduced novelty reaction and contextual updating of targets in the left contralesional space. To characterise further the attentional performance of N+, here we measured Pupil Dilation (PDil), which is a reliable marker of noradrenergic-locus coeruleus activity and response to unexpected events/rewards. Compared to Neutral and Valid targets, N+ patients displayed a pathological reduction of PDil in response to infrequent Invalid targets in the left side of space, while in Healthy Controls (HC) and RBD without neglect (N-) the same targets enhanced PDil with respect to Neutral and frequent Valid targets. Invalid targets in the right side of space enhanced PDil in all experimental groups. Interestingly, both N- and N+ showed a consistent number of target omissions both in the left and right side of space. With respect to seen targets, N- showed reduced PDil in response to unseen targets both in the left and right side of space. In contrast, N+ had reduced PDil in response to unseen targets in the left side of space though not in the right side, where seen and unseen targets evoked comparable levels of PDil. These results disclose, for the first time, the PDil correlates of spatial attention in left spatial neglect and suggest that the pathological attentional bias suffered by N+ might enhance the autonomic responses reflected in PDil to unseen ipsilesional stimuli. This enhancement can contribute to biasing contextual updating and predictive coding of stimuli in the ipsilesional space, thus worsening the pathological attentional bias of N+.
- Predictive coding
- Pupil dilation
- Spatial neglect
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Cognitive Neuroscience