Recent findings point to the existence of a cortical-subcortical parietal network that drives attention-related integration of features and elements. Here we ask whether the functioning of this network might be modulated by early periventricular lesions. To this end, a cohort of adolescents who were born premature with different severity of bilateral periventricular leukomalacia (PVL) and two groups of matched peers (term-born adolescents and former preterms with normal MRI scan) were shown a set of impoverished point-light stimuli. Observers had to detect a point-light walker embedded in an array of distracters mimicking the motion of the target's dots. Patients exhibited higher susceptibility to distortions caused by distracters. In patients only, sensitivity to the point-light figure highly correlates not just with performance on additionally administered feature integration tasks but also on visual attention-demanding IQ tasks. Moreover, the sensitivity index, as well as the values of both IQ factors, decreases with an increase in the volumetric PVL extent in the parieto-occipital region. No relationship was found between these variables and the lesion extent in the frontal or temporal periventricular regions. The data suggest that visual integration and attention in processing cluttered point-light displays are intimately connected. Most importantly, periventricular parieto-occipital regions might be part of a distributed network recruited in deployment of the posterior attentional system. The functioning of this system seems to be vulnerable to bilateral periventricular damage even if it occurs very early in brain development.
- Attention-related visual integration
- Medical psychophysics
- Periventricular lesions
- Point-light biological motion
- Posterior cortical-subcortical parietal network
ASJC Scopus subject areas