Visual attentional disturbance with unilateral lesions in the basal ganglia and deep white matter

Ann Neurol. 1991 Nov;30(5):673-7. doi: 10.1002/ana.410300507.


To elucidate the role of the basal ganglia and deep white matter in the visual attention mechanism, a new visual attention task was carried out by 15 patients, 9 with left-side and 6 with right-side basal ganglia and/or deep white matter damage without visual field defects, and by 12 normal subjects. Their reaction times were recorded in response to a random visual stimulation by pushing a button with the hand ipsilateral to the side of the lesion. All the patients with damage to the right side of the brain had a longer reaction time in the left space than in the right or middle space. With conventional test, only one of them showed left unilateral spatial neglect. Seven of the 9 patients with a left lesion had a significantly longer reaction time in the right space than in the left. None had unilateral spatial neglect. Both the right and left brain-damaged groups showed longer reaction times in both spaces, compared to the normal groups. There was no significant difference in reaction time among the control subjects. These findings suggest that the basal ganglia and deep white matter in each hemisphere play some role in directing visual attentional factors into both spaces. Visual attentional disturbance was highly evident even with left-side brain damage, and this kind of disturbance is not usually revealed with the current tasks used for testing unilateral spatial neglect.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attention / physiology
  • Basal Ganglia / physiopathology*
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / complications
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Dominance, Cerebral*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Reaction Time
  • Vision Disorders / etiology
  • Vision Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*