Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
Previous studies on auditory space perception in patients with neglect have investigated localization of free-field-sound stimuli or lateralization of dichotic stimuli that are perceived intracranially. Since those studies in part revealed contradictory results, reporting either systematic errors to the left or systematic errors to the right, we reassessed the ability of auditory lateralization in patients with right hemispheric lesions with and without neglect. Unexpectedly, about half of the patients with neglect showed erratic judgments on sound position, that is, they were completely unable to lateralize sounds. The remaining neglect patients only showed a small deviation of the auditory median plane to the left side, indicating that they perceived the sounds as slightly shifted to the right side. The comparison between both groups revealed higher severity of neglect in the group of neglect patients who were unable to perform the task, suggesting that the inability of sound lateralization was associated with the strength of clinical neglect. However, we also observed 1 out of 9 patients with left brain damage who was not able to lateralize spatial sounds. This patient did not show any symptoms of spatial neglect. Thus, it may be that a spatial auditory deficit, such as that observed here in right-braindamaged patients, only co-occurs with spatial neglect if the right superior temporal cortex is lesioned.