What do spatial distortions in patients' drawing after right brain damage teach us about space representation in art?

Gilles Rode, Giuseppe Vallar, Eric Chabanat, Patrice Revol, Yves Rossetti

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The right cerebral hemisphere plays a crucial rule in spatial cognition, spanning from perception of elementary features, such as location, color, line orientation or shape to representation of different spaces (3D space, allocentric, egocentric, face, personal, peri-personal, or imaginal). One important aspect of its contribution concerns the perception of space symmetry and the representation of objects and scenes, with reference to the midline or body axis. This representation results from a balance between spatial attention processes depending from the two hemispheres. Healthy participants tend to show a discrete deviation of the midline plane representation toward the left side, that is likely to result from the predominance of the activity of the right cerebral hemisphere, mainly oriented toward the contralateral side of space. The visuospatial abilities of the right hemisphere, especially for the representation of the midline plane are crucially engaged in painting and drawing processes in artists. Interestingly, the distortions created by painters of the Cubism period, characterized by an asymmetry of objects and body representations, a specific enlargement or reduction of parts of space, or even by complex distortions of 3D space are analogous to those classically reported in right-brain-damaged patients (unilateral spatial neglect, hyperschematia, constructional apraxia). Understanding the pathological mechanisms of these representation disorders provides meaningful information to apprehend visual artist creations and esthetic perception of space.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1058
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Issue numberJUN
Publication statusPublished - Jun 26 2018


  • Egocentric representation
  • Hyperschematia
  • Neglect syndrome
  • Right hemisphere damage
  • Space representation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'What do spatial distortions in patients' drawing after right brain damage teach us about space representation in art?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this