Neuro anatomical dissections of unilateral visual neglect symptoms: ALE meta-analysis of lesion-symptom mapping

Magdalena Chechlacz, Pia Rotshtein, Glyn W. Humphreys

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Unilateral visual neglect is commonly defined as impaired ability to attend to stimuli presented on the side of visual space contralateral to the brain lesion. However, behavioral analyses indicate that different neglect symptoms can dissociate. The neuroanatomy of the syndrome has been hotly debated. Some groups have argued that the syndrome is linked to posterior parietal cortex lesions, while others report damage within regions including the superior temporal gyrus, insula, and basal ganglia. Several recent neuroimaging studies provide evidence that heterogeneity in the behavioral symptoms of neglect can be matched by variations in the brain lesions, and that some of the discrepancies across earlier findings might have resulted from the use of different neuropsychological tests and/or varied measures within the same task for diagnosing neglect. In this paper, we review the evidence for dissociations between both the symptoms and the neural substrates of unilateral visual neglect, drawing on ALE (anatomic likelihood estimation) meta-analyses of lesion-symptom mapping studies. Specifically, we examine dissociations between neglect symptoms associated with impaired control of attention across space (in an egocentric frame of reference) and within objects (in an allocentric frame of reference). Results of ALE meta-analyses indicated that, while egocentric symptoms are associated with damage within perisylvian network (pre- and postcentral, supramarginal, and superior temporal gyri) and damage within sub-cortical structures, more posterior lesions including the angular, middle temporal, and middle occipital gyri are associated with allocentric symptoms. Furthermore, there was high concurrence in deficits associated with white matter lesions within long association (superior longitudinal, inferior fronto-occipital, and inferior longitudinal fasciculi) and projection (corona radiata and thalamic radiation) pathways, supporting a disconnection account of the syndrome. Using this evidence we argue that different forms of neglect link to both distinct and common patterns of gray and white matter lesions.The findings are discussed in terms of functional accounts of neglect and theoretical models based on computational studies of both normal and impaired attention functions.

Original languageEnglish
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
Issue numberAUGUST
StatePublished - 10 Aug 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • All centric
  • Egocentric
  • Lesion-symptom mapping
  • Spatial attention
  • Unilateral neglect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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