Attentional grasp in far extrapersonal space after thalamic infarction

Academic Article


  • Studies of animals and humans with focal brain damage suggest that attention in near and far extrapersonal space may be mediated by anatomically separate systems. Thalamic lesions have been associated with spatial neglect, but whether asymmetric attention specific to near or far space occur after thalamic damage has not been explored. It is also unclear if thalamic injury can induce contralesional defective response inhibition. We tested a woman with a left thalamic infarction who reported that, when driving, she had a tendency to veer towards people or objects on the right side of the road. Our patient and four controls performed a line bisection task with a laser pointer in near and far extrapersonal space. The experimenter marked each bisection either from the right of the presented line (right-distractor, RD) or the left (left-distractor, LD). RD and LD trials were pseudo-randomized. Our patient performed similarly to controls (mean -0.7 mm, controls -0.6 mm) on the line bisection task in near space. In far space she erred significantly rightward compared to her performance in near space (p < 0.001). Controls performed similarly in near and far space. The experimenter position did not affect our patient's performance on near line bisections, nor did controls demonstrate a distractor effect for the near condition. In the far condition, however, our patient showed a significant distractor effect (LD -3.3 mm, RD 35.3 mm, p < 0.001). Controls also demonstrated a distractor effect in the far condition (LD -6.4 mm, RD 0.7 mm, p < 0.01), though of much smaller magnitude. Our results suggest that frontal-thalamic systems regulating visual attention may be disrupted by thalamic infarction. Such damage may produce an attentional grasp specific to far extrapersonal space. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • Neuropsychologia  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Barrett AM; Schwartz RL; Crucian GP; Kim M; Heilman KM
  • Start Page

  • 778
  • End Page

  • 784
  • Volume

  • 38
  • Issue

  • 6