M. Harvey, I. D. Gilchrist, B. Olk, K. Muir



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Over the last decade a range of studies have shown that some patients with hemispatial neglect subjectively underestimate the size of objects presented in their contralesional hemispace. Recently, it has been suggested that the effect is simply due to either hemianopia [Brain 124 (2001) 527], or the combination of neglect and hemianopia [Neurology 52 (1999) 1845]. In the current study we asked right hemisphere lesioned patients with and without neglect and hemianopia as well as healthy controls to judge either two horizontal or vertical lines presented simultaneously in right and left hemispace and monitored their eye movements. Three out of the six patients showed the predicted size distortion effect for horizontal lines. We found no evidence that the effect was mediated by eye movements. The two neglect patients who showed the strongest left side underestimation showed symmetrical (left, right) scanning of the lines both in terms of number of fixations and fixation time, yet they still failed to judge the relative size veridically. In addition, we did not find strong evidence for a link with hemianopia. We therefore propose that the effect reflects a computational/representational failure of processing for horizontal extent. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.