Unilateral spatial neglect after posterior parietal damage

Giuseppe Vallar, Elena Calzolari

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Unilateral spatial neglect is a disabling neurologic deficit, most frequent and severe after right-hemispheric lesions. In most patients neglect involves the left side of space, contralateral to a right-hemispheric lesion. About 50% of stroke patients exhibit neglect in the acute phase. Patients fail to orient, respond to, and report sensory events occurring in the contralateral sides of space and of the body, to explore these portions of space through movements by action effectors (eye, limbs), and to move the contralateral limbs. Neglect is a multicomponent higher-level disorder of spatial awareness, cognition, and attention. Spatial neglect may occur independently of elementary sensory and motor neurologic deficits, but it can mimic and make them more severe. Diagnostic tests include: motor exploratory target cancellation; setting the midpoint of a horizontal line (bisection), that requires the estimation of lateral extent; drawing by copy and from memory; reading, assessing neglect dyslexia; and exploring the side of the body contralateral to the lesion. Activities of daily living scales are also used. Patients are typically not aware of neglect, although they may exhibit varying degrees of awareness toward different components of the deficit. The neural correlates include lesions to the inferior parietal lobule of the posterior parietal cortex, which was long considered the unique neuropathologic correlate of neglect, to the premotor and to the dorsolateral prefrontal cortices, to the posterior superior temporal gyrus, at the temporoparietal junction, to subcortical gray nuclei (thalamus, basal ganglia), and to parietofrontal white-matter fiber tracts, such as the superior longitudinal fascicle. Damage to the inferior parietal lobule of the posterior parietal cortex is specifically associated with the mainly egocentric, perceptual, and exploratory extrapersonal, and with the personal, bodily components of neglect. Productive manifestations, such as perseveration, are not a correlate of posterior parietal cortex damage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-312
Number of pages26
JournalHandbook of Clinical Neurology
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Humans
  • Parietal Lobe/physiopathology
  • Perceptual Disorders/etiology
  • Stroke/complications


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