In search of biased egocentric reference frames in neglect

Neuropsychologia. 1998 Jul;36(7):611-23. doi: 10.1016/s0028-3932(97)00164-4.


The present study was aimed at assessing, by means of visual as well as proprioceptive-kinaesthetic straight-ahead tasks, the possible causal role of the ipsilesional deviation of the egocentric reference frame in determining neglect syndrome. The hypothesis, originally proposed by Ventre et al. [3], that an alteration of the representation of body-centred space can be a cause of asymmetrical spatial behaviour in humans has been recently revived by Karnath and co-workers [24]. The results of the present study seem to challenge the view that a systematic ipsilesional displacement of the egocentric reference is the crucial mechanism responsible for unilateral visual neglect. Under visual conditions, in which patients were required to stop a moving spot as it crossed their perceived midline, the ipsilesional deviation of the egocentric reference frame was dependent upon the direction of visual scanning. Right to left visual scanning direction produced a rightward displacement of the egocentric reference. In contrast, left to right visual scanning direction allowed neglect patients to correctly locate their perceived egocentre with an accuracy which did not differ from controls. The notion that the effect of a deviation of the egocentric reference frame is actually dependent on a bias in the visual scanning orienting response was also confirmed in the proprioceptive straight-ahead pointing tasks, in which the patients were blindfolded and therefore no visual information was available. In these conditions, in which patients were required to judge the subjective midline by using head, trunk and shoulder co-ordinate systems, the displacement of the subjective egocentric midline was not present.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kinesis*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Skills Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology
  • Proprioception*
  • Visual Perception