Seeing only the right half of the forest but cutting down all the trees?

Fabrizio Doricchi, Chiara Incoccia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Unilateral neglect following damage to the right hemisphere of the brain can be characterized by failure of the global attentional mechanisms of the right hemisphere to direct the local detail processors of the left hemisphere towards the contralesional left hemispace. This is suggested by patients who recognize the global form of the left side of shapes (the forest) but fail to cancel out its local details (the trees). Here we report the opposite behavioural dissociation in a patient (Q.M.) with damage to the right hemisphere of the brain. Q.M. detected local details (such as the tail of a dog) on the left or right side of visual shapes, regardless of whether these details belonged to predefined target shapes (a dog in this case) or to distractor shapes differing on the opposite side (a dog with a swan's neck and head, for example). Psychological testing showed an abnormal tendency of this patient to respond to local features, but perfect accuracy in interpreting global features when the local features could not interfere in global processing. The results indicate that the left hemisphere can integrate multiple local features simultaneously but loses global awareness as soon as local features individually compete for response selection. However, awareness of the whole is not necessary for the sequential processing of the parts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-78
Number of pages4
Issue number6688
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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