The psychophysical power law and unilateral spatial neglect

Academic Article


  • The relationship between objective measures and subjective experiences of sensory stimuli is described by a power law, ψ = Kφβ, in which ψ represents the psychological value and Φ the physical value. The constant (K) and the exponent (β) are empirically derived. This relationship is often assumed to correspond to properties of peripheral receptor sensory transduction. Patients with left-sided spatial neglect tend to bisect lines to the right of the objective midline. Line bisection bias was used as the dependent variable in how a patient with neglect and five normal subjects bisected lines of varying lengths. Analyzing these data as a power function accounted for over 99% of the variance in five different experimental conditions. The normal exponent matched the value expected from traditional psychophysical experiments of line length estimation, whereas the patient′s exponent was diminished. The patient′s data provide evidence for central nervous system participation in computations underlying psychophysical relationships. The notion that attentional and perceptual processes are closely linked was supported by the influence of attentional cuing on the power functions obtained in normal subjects. The descriptive precision of the power function uncovered qualitative variability in how normal subjects allocate attention across different spatial reference frames and demonstrated that this patient had a quantitative defect in directing attention across an allosteric reference frame, but a qualitative defect in directing attention across a viewer/environment reference frame. © 1994 Academic Press, Inc.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 25245852
  • Author List

  • Chatterjee A; Mennemeier M; Heilman KM
  • Start Page

  • 92
  • End Page

  • 107
  • Volume

  • 25
  • Issue

  • 1