, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 11-27

Broad-Perspective Perceptual Disorder of the Right Hemisphere

Abstract

Traditional accounts of right-posterior brain injury describe a syndrome of low-level perceptual sequelae producing marked acute dependency and transient safety concerns. The syndrome is also held to spare cognition and to carry a generally favorable long-term prognosis. The present paper reviews publications and anecdotal data that challenge this picture. Recent theoretical expositions and empirical studies stipulate three major cognitive functions of the right posterior association cortex: processing novel input, guiding reactions to emergencies, and anticipating consequences. Appearing benign after acute recovery, the impairment of these processes produces vocational, social and marital dysfunctions that increase as a function of chronicity, ultimately becoming more broadly disabling than focal injuries in other cortical loci. The unique symptom picture and serious implications suggest that the long-term syndrome should be labeled (Broad-Perspective Perceptual Disorder) and incorporated in future clinical taxonomies, underscoring the need for extraordinary long-term assistance and specialized therapeutics. Procedures for assessment and differential diagnosis are outlined.