The right hemisphere is important for driving-related cognitive function after stroke


Considering quality of life (QOL) after stroke, car driving is one of the most important abilities for returning to the community. In this study, directed attention and sustained attention, which are thought to be crucial for driving, were examined. Identification of specific brain structure abnormalities associated with post-stroke cognitive dysfunction related to driving ability would help in determining fitness for car driving after stroke. Magnetic resonance imaging was performed in 57 post-stroke patients (51 men; mean age, 63 ± 11 years) who were assessed for attention deficit using a standardized test (the Clinical Assessment for Attention, CAT), which includes a Continuous Performance Test (CPT)-simple version (CPT-SRT), the Behavioral Inattention Test (BIT), and a driving simulator (handle task for dividing attention, and simple and selective reaction times for sustained attention). A statistical non-parametric map (SnPM) that displayed the association between lesion location and cognitive function for car driving was created. From the SnPM analysis, the overlay plots were localized to the right hemisphere during handling the hit task for bilateral sides (left hemisphere damage related to right-side neglect and right hemisphere damage related to left-side neglect) and during simple and selective reaction times (false recognition was related to damage of both hemispheres). A stepwise multiple linear regression analysis confirmed the importance of both hemispheres, especially the right hemisphere, for cognitive function and car driving ability. The present study demonstrated that the right hemisphere has a crucial role for maintaining directed attention and sustained attention, which maintain car driving ability, improving QOL for stroke survivors.

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The authors would like to thank the MRI Team at Hibino Hospital for the special efforts.

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Correspondence to Seiji Hama.

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Shimonaga, K., Hama, S., Tsuji, T. et al. The right hemisphere is important for driving-related cognitive function after stroke. Neurosurg Rev 44, 977–985 (2021).

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  • Stroke
  • Cognitive function
  • Driving