COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE

Impaired working memory for location but not for colour or shape in visual neglect: a comparison of parietal and non-parietal lesions

Laure Pisella, Nadja Berberovic, Jason B Mattingley
Cortex; a Journal Devoted to the Study of the Nervous System and Behavior 2004, 40 (2): 379-90
15156795
Patients with spatial neglect due to right hemisphere pathology may show 'revisiting' behaviour during visual search and cancellation tasks, such that previously encountered targets are treated as if they are new discoveries. Revisiting behaviour is particularly evident when no visible trace is left to inform patients that a particular target has already been detected (Husain et al., 2001; Wojciulik et al., 2001), implying that spatial working memory may be impaired in neglect. To test whether working memory for location is selectively impaired relative to memory for colour and shape, we compared performances of right hemisphere neglect patients with parietal (n = 4) and non-parietal (n = 4) lesions on a change detection task. Patients were presented with a matrix containing four objects in different positions, and required to detect a change in the location, colour or shape of one of the objects following presentation of a brief visual mask. Parietal patients were selectively impaired in detecting location changes, regardless of the horizontal position of the object in the matrix, relative to colour and shape changes. This deficit of spatial working memory was not apparent for neglect patients with lesions that spared the parietal cortex. We conclude that the human parietal cortex is crucially involved in the updating and maintenance of spatial representations across saccades, and that neglect arising from parietal damage causes impairment in these re-mapping mechanisms.

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