Orienting of spatial attention in Huntington's Disease

M Couette, A Bachoud Levi, P Brugieres, E Sieroff, Paolo Bartolomeo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

25 Citations (Scopus)


To explore the functioning of spatial attention in Huntington's Disease (HD), 14 HD patients and 14 age-matched controls performed a cued response time (RT) task with peripheral cues. In Experiment 1, cues were not informative about the future target location, thus eliciting a purely exogenous orienting of attention. At short stimulus-onset asynchrony (SOA), controls showed an initial facilitation for cued locations, later replaced by a cost (inhibition of return, IOR). Patients had a larger and more persistent validity effect, with delayed IOR, resulting from a larger cost for uncued targets. This suggests an impairment of attentional disengaging from cued locations. In Experiment 2, 80% of the cues were valid, thus inducing an initially exogenous, and later endogenous, attentional shift towards the cued box. The validity effect was larger in patients than in controls, again as a result of a disproportionate cost for uncued targets. In Experiment 3, 80% of the cues were invalid, thus inviting participants to endogenously re-orient attention towards the uncued box. Patients could take advantage of invalid cues to re-orient their attention towards the uncued targets but at a longer SOA than controls, thus suggesting that endogenous orienting is preserved in HD, but slowed down by the disengage deficit. The disengage deficit correlated with several radiological and biological markers of HD, thus suggesting a causal relationship between HD and attentional impairments. Cued RT tasks are promising tools for the clinical monitoring of HD and of its potential treatments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1391-1400
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Adult
  • Attention
  • Cerebral Cortex
  • Cues
  • Eye Movements
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Huntington Disease
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Orientation
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Reaction Time
  • Space Perception


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