Article: article from journal or magazin.
Gambling against neglect: unconscious spatial biases induced by reward reinforcement in healthy people and brain-damaged patients.
Publication types: Journal Article ; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov'tPublication Status: ppublish
Orienting attention in space recruits fronto-parietal networks whose damage results in unilateral spatial neglect. However, attention orienting may also be governed by emotional and motivational factors; but it remains unknown whether these factors act through a modulation of the fronto-parietal attentional systems or distinct neural pathways. Here we asked whether attentional orienting is affected by learning about the reward value of targets in a visual search task, in a spatially specific manner, and whether these effects are preserved in right-brain damaged patients with left spatial neglect. We found that associating rewards with left-sided (but not right-sided) targets during search led to progressive exploration biases towards left space, in both healthy people and neglect patients. Such spatially specific biases occurred even without any conscious awareness of the asymmetric reward contingencies. These results show that reward-induced modulations of space representation are preserved despite a dysfunction of fronto-parietal networks associated with neglect, and therefore suggest that they may arise through spared subcortical networks directly acting on sensory processing and/or oculomotor circuits. These effects could be usefully exploited for potentiating rehabilitation strategies in neglect patients.
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