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Visual-Spatial Ability

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Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology


Spatial processing; Visuospatial ability


Visuospatial ability is a component of visual perception that enables processing of the visual orientation or location of objects in space. The visuospatial or “where” system is functionally and neuroanatomically distinct from the visuoperceptual “what” system. Visuospatial information is processed by a “dorsal stream” occipito-parietal pathway, while a “ventral stream” occipito-temporal processes visuoperceptual information (Ungerleider & Mishkin, 1982). Specifically, the visuoperceptual system gets input from “type M” retinal ganglion cells which project to the ventral layers of the lateral geniculate nucleus followed by superior occipital and parietal projections. Impairments in visuospatial abilities can result in deficits in visuospatial judgment, visual neglect, topographic disorientation, and Balint’s syndrome (Capruso, Hamsher, & Benton, 2006).

Historical Background

Dr. Arthur Benton credits an early case report by...

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Irani, F. (2011). Visual-Spatial Ability. In: Kreutzer, J.S., DeLuca, J., Caplan, B. (eds) Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology. Springer, New York, NY.

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