Extinction is not a natural consequence of unilateral spatial neglect: Evidence from contrast detection experiments

Marina Pavlovskaya, Nachum Soroker, Yoram Bonneh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To investigate whether the expression of visual extinction is dependent upon the contralesional low saliency existing in neglect, we tested stroke patients with neglect and extinction, as well as normal controls, on detection of a peripheral Gabor patch, while a competing patch was presented simultaneously on the other side. To compensate for uneven saliency we set the contrast level relative to the detection threshold on each side. Patients showed contralesional extinction even for stimuli set at threshold level. They differed from controls in their sensitivity to changes in relative contrast between sides, showing stronger tendency for extinction and requiring much higher contrast increments in the target patch in order to eliminate extinction. The differences between normal and pathological extinction, shown despite compensation for contralesional perceptual attenuation due to neglect, suggest an additional extinction-specific deficit related to an abnormal interplay between the bilaterally presented stimuli. These findings have important theoretical implications concerning the relationship between neglect and extinction. They demonstrate that the hypothetical 'attentional gradient', taken to explain reduced saliency of stimuli in the neglected side, cannot fully account for the phenomenon of extinction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)240-244
Number of pages5
JournalNeuroscience Letters
Issue number3
StatePublished - 15 Jun 2007


  • Attention
  • Contrast detection
  • Salience imbalance
  • Unilateral neglect
  • Visual extinction


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