Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
A widely debated question concerns whether or not spatial and nonspatial components of visual attention interact in attentional performance. Spatial neglect is a common consequence of brain injury where individuals fail to respond to stimuli presented on their contralesional side. It has been argued that, beyond the spatial bias, these individuals also tend to exhibit nonspatial perceptual deficits. Here we demonstrate that the “nonspatial” deficits affecting the temporal dynamics of attentional deployment are in fact modulated by spatial position. Specifically, we observed that the pathological attentional blink of chronic neglect is enhanced when stimuli are presented on the contralesional side of the trunk while keeping retinal and head-centered coordinates constant. We did not find this pattern in right brain-damaged patients without neglect or in patients who had recovered from neglect. Our work suggests that the nonspatial attentional deficits observed in neglect are heavily modulated by egocentric spatial position. This provides strong evidence against models that suggest independent modules for spatial and nonspatial attentional functions while also providing strong evidence that trunk position plays an important role in neglect.