Hemispatial Neglect Shows That "Before" Is "Left"

Neural Plast. 2016;2016:2716036. doi: 10.1155/2016/2716036. Epub 2016 May 29.

Abstract

Recent research has led to the hypothesis that events which unfold in time might be spatially represented in a left-to-right fashion, resembling writing direction. Here we studied fourteen right-hemisphere damaged patients, with or without neglect, a disorder of spatial awareness affecting contralesional (here left) space processing and representation. We reasoned that if the processing of time-ordered events is spatial in nature, it should be impaired in the presence of neglect and spared in its absence. Patients categorized events of a story as occurring before or after a central event, which acted as a temporal reference. An asymmetric distance effect emerged in neglect patients, with slower responses to events that took place before the temporal reference. The event occurring immediately before the reference elicited particularly slow responses, closely mirroring the pattern found in neglect patients performing numerical comparison tasks. Moreover, the first item elicited significantly slower responses than the last one, suggesting a preference for a left-to-right scanning/representation of events in time. Patients without neglect showed a regular and symmetric distance effect. These findings further suggest that the representation of events order is spatial in nature and provide compelling evidence that ordinality is similarly represented within temporal and numerical domains.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Movement / physiology
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Perceptual Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Space Perception / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*