Disentangling neglect and hemianopia

Neuropsychologia. 1991;29(10):1019-27. doi: 10.1016/0028-3932(91)90065-g.


In this paper we report findings which question the diagnosis of a hemianopia in B.Q., a 66-year-old lady who shows unilateral spatial neglect following a lesion to the right parietal lobe. The presence of a hemianopia has been indicated following two independent assessments of B.Q.'s visual fields. We examined B.Q.'s performance on a visuo-spatial task in which single or double stimuli were displayed left and right of a central fixation point. B.Q. failed to report left stimuli when the fixation point was continuously displayed (OVERLAP CONDITION). This performance is consistent with the suggestion of a left hemianopia as indicated by perimetric field testing. In a further condition the fixation point was extinguished prior to stimuli onset (GAP CONDITION). B.Q. consistently responded to left stimuli in the gap condition and also showed improved performance to right stimuli. Eye movements were recorded on a separate testing session, in which B.Q. showed a normal saccadic response to left targets in the gap condition, but not during the overlap condition. These results suggest that B.Q.'s failure to report left stimuli during field plotting is due to her neglecting left stimuli and not because she has a visual field defect. By using a testing procedure which reduces the severity of neglect B.Q. is able to respond to left stimuli. Reducing the severity of B.Q.'s neglect also abolishes the apparent hemianopia. Standard field plotting techniques which use a consistently displayed fixation point may not be appropriate for the testing of neglect patients' visual fields.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Eye Movements / physiology
  • Female
  • Hemianopsia / diagnosis
  • Hemianopsia / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Orientation / physiology
  • Parietal Lobe / injuries
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Saccades / physiology
  • Space Perception / physiology*