Visuospatial asymmetry and non-spatial attention in subacute stroke patients with and without neglect
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SourceCortex, 46, 5, (2010), pp. 602-612
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ DCC NRP
SubjectDI-BCB_DCC_Theme 3: Plasticity and Memory; Neuropsychology and rehabilitation psychology; Neuro- en revalidatiepsychologie
Asymmetry in performance and an association with non-lateralized attention are often mentioned as two important aspects of the clinical manifestation of visuospatial neglect. Both these aspects were investigated in 21 left (LH) and 24 right hemisphere (RH) stroke patients and in 20 healthy subjects. The letter and star cancellation subtests of the Behavioural Inattention Task (BIT) and a computerized visual reaction time task (CVRT) with stimuli presented either left, central or right in extrapersonal space were administered. In LH patients, the calculation of BIT asymmetry scores allowed a better distinction between patients with and without neglect than raw omission scores. However, in RH patients, raw and asymmetry scores led to similar classifications. In the CVRT, raw and asymmetry scores for the number of omissions also produced identical classifications. Thus, the computation of asymmetry scores for omissions did not substantially refine the diagnosis of neglect. On the other hand, more patients were classified as neglect patients by using CVRT reaction time (RT) asymmetry scores than by using BIT or CVRT omission scores. Ipsilesional RT's were chosen as a measure of general, non-lateralized attention. The ipsilesional RT's of the LH and RH patients did not differ from the healthy subjects' lateral RT's. However, within the RH group, patients with both RT asymmetries and BIT scores above cut-off level showed longer ipsilesional RT's than patients with defective RT asymmetries but normal BIT scores. This supports the idea of an interaction between lateralized and non-lateralized attentional components in neglect, in which the presence of general attentional deficits exacerbates the severity of neglect symptoms. RT tasks may contribute to the detection of asymmetries in visuospatial attention in patients with subclinical neglect symptoms, who might compensate for their lateralized deficit in paper-and-pencil tasks employing intact general attention.
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