Losing the left side of the world: Rightward shift in human spatial attention with sleep onset

Scientific Reports (Impact Factor: 5.58). 05/2014; 4:5092. DOI: 10.1038/srep05092
Source: PubMed


Unilateral brain damage can lead to a striking deficit in awareness of stimuli on one side of space called Spatial Neglect. Patient studies show that neglect of the left is markedly more persistent than of the right and that its severity increases under states of low alertness. There have been suggestions that this alertness-spatial awareness link may be detectable in the general population. Here, healthy human volunteers performed an auditory spatial localisation task whilst transitioning in and out of sleep. We show, using independent electroencephalographic measures, that normal drowsiness is linked with a remarkable unidirectional tendency to mislocate left-sided stimuli to the right. The effect may form a useful healthy model of neglect and help in understanding why leftward inattention is disproportionately persistent after brain injury. The results also cast light on marked changes in conscious experience before full sleep onset.

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Available from: Sophie Scott, Jun 12, 2014
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    • "The other event is a lane change event where a 3-dimensional audio file is played, and the subject changes lane according to whether they think the sound came more from the right or left side. The audio files used were requested and used with permission from Bareham [14]. The inter-event time is random, between 8 to 12 seconds inclusive. "
    37TH ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE OF THE IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, Milano, Italy; 08/2015
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    ABSTRACT: Right brain damage often provokes deficits of visuospatial attention. Although the spatial attention networks have been widely investigated in stroke patients as well as in the healthy brain, little is known about the impact of slow growing lesions in the right hemisphere. We here present a longitudinal study of 20 patients who have been undergoing awake brain surgery with per-operative line bisection testing. Our aim was to investigate the impact of tumour presence and of tumour resection on the functional (re)organization of the attention networks. We assessed patients’ performance on lateralized target detection, visual exploration and line bisection before surgery, and in the acute and post-acute operative phases after surgery. Clear evidence for transient neglect signs was observed in the acute post-operative phase, although full recovery had invariably occurred in all patients. The resection of the right angular gyrus was associated with transient neglect-like symptoms in all tasks, whereas resection of more anterior regions correlated with transient deficits only in visual exploration or detection (but not in line bisection). The attentional networks showed substantial functional recovery. This impressive pattern of recovery is discussed in terms of involvement of the contralateral left hemisphere and of preservation of long-range white matter pathways within the right hemisphere.
    Cortex 08/2014; 63. DOI:10.1016/j.cortex.2014.08.010 · 5.13 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Falling asleep leads to a loss of sensory awareness and to the inability to interact with the environment [1]. While this was traditionally thought as a consequence of the brain shutting down to external inputs, it is now acknowledged that incoming stimuli can still be processed, at least to some extent, during sleep [2]. For instance, sleeping participants can create novel sensory associations between tones and odors [3] or reactivate existing semantic associations, as evidenced by event-related potentials [4-7]. Yet, the extent to which the brain continues to process external stimuli remains largely unknown. In particular, it remains unclear whether sensory information can be processed in a flexible and task-dependent manner by the sleeping brain, all the way up to the preparation of relevant actions. Here, using semantic categorization and lexical decision tasks, we studied task-relevant responses triggered by spoken stimuli in the sleeping brain. Awake participants classified words as either animals or objects (experiment 1) or as either words or pseudowords (experiment 2) by pressing a button with their right or left hand, while transitioning toward sleep. The lateralized readiness potential (LRP), an electrophysiological index of response preparation, revealed that task-specific preparatory responses are preserved during sleep. These findings demonstrate that despite the absence of awareness and behavioral responsiveness, sleepers can still extract task-relevant information from external stimuli and covertly prepare for appropriate motor responses.
    Current Biology 09/2014; 24(18). DOI:10.1016/j.cub.2014.08.016 · 9.57 Impact Factor
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