Modulating the attentional bias in unilateral neglect: the effects of the strategic set

Paolo Bartolomeo, E Siéroff, C Decaix, S. Chokron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

112 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Left unilateral neglect is a neurological condition characterized by an impairment in orienting and responding to events occurring on the left side. To gain insight into the brain mechanisms of space processing and to provide theoretical foundations for patient rehabilitation, it is important to explore the attentional bias shown by neglect patients in the light of existing models of normal attentional orienting. Three experiments tested the hypothesis that attentional bias in neglect involves primarily exogenous, or stimulus-based, orienting of attention, with relatively preserved endogenous, or voluntary, orienting. Six patients with right hemisphere damage and left unilateral neglect and 18 age-matched participants without brain damage performed a cued reaction time (RT) task to targets which could appear in one of two lateral boxes. Cues consisted of a brief brightening of the contour of one of the boxes. The target followed the cue at 150, 550, or 1000 ms stimulus-onset asynchrony (SOA). In experiment 1, the cues were not informative about the future location of the target, and thus elicited a purely exogenous orienting of attention. Controls showed slowed RTs to the cued locations at SOAs > 150 ms, consistent with the notion of inhibition of return (IOR). Neglect patients had no evidence of IOR for right targets; they showed a disproportionate cost for left targets preceded by right (invalid) cues; this cost was maximal at the shortest SOA, consistent with the idea of a biased exogenous orienting in neglect. In experiment 2, 80% of the cues were valid (i.e., they correctly predicted the location of the impending target), thus inducing an initially exogenous, and later endogenous, attentional shift toward the cued box. Neglect patients showed again a cost for left invalidly cued targets, which this time persisted at SOAs > 150 ms, as if patients' attention had been cued to the right side not only exogenously, but also endogenously, thus rendering more difficult an endogenous reorienting toward the left. In experiment 3, only 20% of the cues were valid, so that the best response strategy was to endogenously orient attention toward the box opposite to the cued one. Controls were able to take advantage of invalid cues to rapidly respond to targets. In this condition, neglect patients were able to nullify their spatial bias; they achieved their fastest RTs to left targets, which were in the range of their RTs to right targets. However, for neglect patients fast responses to left targets occurred only at 1000 ms SOA, while controls were able to redirect their attention to the uncued box already at 550 ms SOA. Altogether, these results suggest that endogenous orienting is relatively spared, if slowed, in unilateral neglect.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)432-444
Number of pages13
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Volume137
Publication statusPublished - 2001

Keywords

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attention
  • Cognition Disorders
  • Cues
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Orientation
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Reaction Time
  • Stroke

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