Abstract

Hemispheric specialization and subcortical processes in visual anention were investigated in callosotomy (split-brain) patients by measuring reaction times to lateralized stimuli in a spatial cuing paradigm. Cuing effects were obtained for targets presented to the right hemisphere (left visual hemifield) but not for those presented to the left hemisphere. These cuing effects were manifest as faster reaction times when the cue correctly indicated the location of the subsequent target (valid trials), as compared to trials in which the cue and target appeared in opposite hemifields (invalid trials). This pattern suggests that the right hemisphere allocated attention to cued locations in either visual hemifield, whereas the left hemisphere allocated attention predominantly to the right hemifield. This finding is consistent with a body of evidence from studies in patients with cortical lesions who display different attentional deficits for right versus left hemisphere damage. Because the present pattern occurs in patients whose cerebral hemispheres are separated at the cortical level, it suggests that right hemisphere attentional allocation to events in the ipsilateral visual half-field is mediated in part via intact subcortical systems.

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