Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 187, Issue 3, pp 447–457 | Cite as

Local (focussed) and global (distributed) visual processing in hemispatial neglect

  • Andrea PeruEmail author
  • Leonardo Chelazzi
Research Article


In the present study we set out to investigate deficits of focussed and distributed attention (and their interaction) in brain-damaged patients. To this purpose, four left brain damaged (LBD) patients without signs of hemispatial neglect and six right brain damaged (RBD) patients with variable signs of hemispatial neglect were tested by means of an experimental paradigm comprising two embedded tasks performed on the same visual array. The first task (i.e. counting the number of shapes, 1–4, briefly displayed) mainly involved distributed attention rather than focussed attention. The second task was a typical target detection task, which emphasized the detailed analysis of each element in the array, thus mainly tapping focussed attention. Results clearly showed that: (1) LBD patients are slightly impaired at directing focussed attention to the contralesional visual hemifield; (2) in comparison to LBD patients, RBD patients with mild neglect show an exaggerated difficulty in orienting focussed attention toward the contralesional side, while they are similarly unimpaired in the deployment of distributed attention, i.e. in global processing; (3) RBD patients with the most severe neglect suffer from a deficit of both local and global visual processing, i.e. of both focussed and distributed attention. Taken together, these observations indicate that focussed and distributed components of visual attentional processing may be differentially affected in left and right brain-damaged patients with and without neglect.


Neglect Visual search Brain damaged patients Attention 



The research reported here was supported by grants to L.C. from the Italian Government (MIUR) and the Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP). We wish to thank Marco Veronese and Gianni Finizia for their invaluable help with preparing the stimuli and the figures.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di Scienze dell’EducazioneUniversità di FirenzeFirenzeItaly
  2. 2.Department of Neurological and Vision SciencesUniversity of VeronaVeronaItaly

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