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December 1991

Changing Attentional Demands in Left Hemispatial Neglect

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Neurology, Tufts University School of Medicine and Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Mass.

Arch Neurol. 1991;48(12):1263-1266. doi:10.1001/archneur.1991.00530240067023

• Seven variations of a letter cancellation test were used to examine how varying attentional demands affect hemispatial neglect in patients with right hemisphere lesions. While the 14 targets always remained in the same location, the number of distractors (zero, nine, 28, or 82) as well as their complexity (one letter or nine different letters) were varied. The percentage of targets canceled in the left hemispace was linearly related to the number of distractors. There were no differences between the complexity conditions. In a second study, the same 14 targets were presented but the distractors (zero, 14, or 41) were all placed on the right. Increasing the number of distractors on the right increased neglect on both sides of the space. Taken together, these results suggest that, while the limited attentional resources of the left hemisphere are biased toward the right hemispace, the absence of contralateral attentional demands allows these resources to be directed ipsilaterally.

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