Understanding spatial neglect

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One neurological mystery is that injury to the right hemisphere can lead to different patterns of perceptual problems. While this has lead some to despair that terms like ‘spatial neglect’ are a meaningless entity (as two patients with “neglect” may have very different symptoms and prognosis), we argue that these differences actually reflect different patterns of brain injury. Therefore, the myriad of symptoms actually reveals different brain functions, providing insights into the modularity of brain function. We describe this in a review article published in Neuropsychologia, which summarizes the work from many teams and reveals a growing consensus regarding these functions.

Cancellation versus bisection

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Dr Kathleen Pirog Revill has published an article in the journal NeuroImage. ¬†One mystery of neuology is that some patients exhibit “bisection deficits” (missing the left side of an object), whereas others present with “cancellation deficits” (missing objects on their left side) after damage to the right side of the brain. Our new work shows that healthy adults show different brain areas involved with these two tasks, suggesting that the clinical deficits may reflect differences in the location of injury.

Temporal order perception

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Ben Davis has published an article in the Journal of Neuroscience. This work identifies the brain regions that are active when we try to discriminate the temporal order of two visual events (did the red or green item appear first). This work helps understand the profound sequencing problems often experienced after brain injury. Ben completed this work as a graduate student in our lab.

Auditory and visual attention

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David V Smith has published an article in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience. This work finds that similar regions of the brain are activated when we try to listen to peripheral information as when we try to attend to visual information out of the corner of our eye. This work was based on David’s undergraduate summer internship in our lab.