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Assessment of spatial attention after brain damage with a dynamic reaction time test

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 October 2005

LEON Y. DEOUELL
Affiliation:
Department of Psychology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel Loewenstein Rehabilitation Hospital, Raanana, Israel Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel
YARON SACHER
Affiliation:
Loewenstein Rehabilitation Hospital, Raanana, Israel Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel
NACHUM SOROKER
Affiliation:
Loewenstein Rehabilitation Hospital, Raanana, Israel Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel

Abstract

Lateralized spatial biases after brain damage are commonly assessed using batteries of paper-and-pencil tests. These tests hardly allow quantification of performance in different locations in space, and they tend to lose sensitivity along the course of recovery. We tested the dynamic Starry Night Test (SNT), a novel computerized test measuring reaction time and detection accuracy for visual target stimuli in a dynamic background, in 32 inpatients with right hemisphere stroke (RHS), 16 patients with left hemisphere stroke (LHS), and 9 healthy controls. As a group, only the RHS patients were significantly slower to respond to contralesional targets. Individually, 21 (66%) RHS patients and 5 (31%) LHS patients showed statistically significant contralateral deficits. In a number of RHS patients the SNT was more sensitive to the ipsilesional bias of spatial attention than the Behavioral Inattention Test (BIT), a standardized paper-and-pencil test battery of unilateral spatial neglect. Two illustrative case reports show that the dynamic SNT, but not the BIT, was sensitive to the spatial deficit in recovered patients, one of whom was involved in repeated car accidents. The SNT overcomes serious shortcomings of paper-and-pencil tests of unilateral neglect. It provides a simple quantitative tool for monitoring the natural and treatment-induced recovery of patients. (JINS, 2005, 11, 697–707.)Part of the data was presented in abstract form at the EBBS EuroConference on Cognitive and Neural Bases of Spatial Neglect, September 14–17, 2000, Como, Italy.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© 2005 The International Neuropsychological Society

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