Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 202, Issue 2, pp 445–455

Simulating simultanagnosia: spatially constricted vision mimics local capture and the global processing deficit

  • Kirsten A. Dalrymple
  • Walter F. Bischof
  • David Cameron
  • Jason J. S. Barton
  • Alan Kingstone
Research Article


Patients with simultanagnosia, which is a component of Bálint syndrome, have a restricted spatial window of visual attention and cannot see more than one object at a time. As a result, these patients see the world in a piecemeal fashion, seeing the local components of objects or scenes at the expense of the global picture. To directly test the relationship between the restriction of the attentional window in simultanagnosia and patients’ difficulty with global-level processing, we used a gaze-contingent display to create a literal restriction of vision for healthy participants while they performed a global/local identification task. Participants in this viewing condition were instructed to identify the global and local aspects of hierarchical letter stimuli of different sizes and densities. They performed well at the local identification task, and their patterns of inaccuracies for the global level task were highly similar to the pattern of inaccuracies typically seen with simultanagnosic patients. This suggests that a restricted spatial area of visual processing, combined with normal limits to visual processing, can lead to difficulties with global-level perception.


Bálint syndrome Simultanagnosia Gaze-contingent Hierarchical stimuli Attention 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kirsten A. Dalrymple
    • 1
  • Walter F. Bischof
    • 4
  • David Cameron
    • 1
  • Jason J. S. Barton
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Alan Kingstone
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Division of Neurology, Department of MedicineUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  3. 3.Department of Ophthalmology and Visual SciencesUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  4. 4.Department of Computing ScienceUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

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