Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
Lesion and electrophysiological studies indicate that the parietal lobes play a role in visual spatial attention and in computing the spatial coordinates of visual input. Fewer studies have investigated the role of the parietal lobe in auditory spatial processing, and an extensive comparison of visual and auditory spatial processing in humans with parietal lobe lesions has yet to be conducted. We have studied such localization abilities in a Balint's syndrome patient (RM) who has bilateral parietal lobe lesions. The results indicated that this patient had a significant deficit in both visual and auditory localization relative to age-matched controls. Unlike the controls, however, RM's auditory localization ability either matched or exceeded his visual localization ability depending on the task. Accordingly, RM exhibited “auditory capture”, but not “visual capture” under conditions where control subjects showed the opposite pattern. These results are consistent with hypotheses that the parietal lobes are involved in creating multiple spatial representations and in shifting from one spatial reference point to another, but suggest that these parietal structures are not necessary for the integration of multiple sensory stimuli resulting in capture effects.