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Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience

November 1997, Vol. 9, No. 6, Pages 824-834
(doi: 10.1162/jocn.1997.9.6.824)
© 1997 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Coordinate Frame for Pattern Recognition in Unilateral Spatial Neglect
Article PDF (1.16 MB)

The present research examines the effect of spatial (object-centered) attentional constraints on pattern recognition. Four normal subjects and two right-hemisphere-damaged patients with left visual neglect participated in the study. Small, letterlike, prelearned patterns served as stimuli. Short exposure time prevented overt scanpaths during stimulus presentation. Attention was attracted to a central (midsagittal) hation point by precuing this location prior to each stimulus presentation. Minute (up to 1.5° of visual angle) rightward and leftward stimulus shifts caused attention to be allocated each time to a different location on the object space, while remaining in a fixed central position in viewercentered coordinates. The task was to decide which of several prelearned patterns was presented in each trial. In the normal subjects, best performance was achieved when the luminance centroid (LC; derived from the analysis of low-spatial frequencies in the object space) of each pattern coincided with the spatial position of the precue. In contrast, the patients with neglect showed optimal recognition performance when precuing attracted attention to locations within the object space, to the left of the LC. The normal performance suggests that the LC may serve as a center of gravity for attention allocation during pattern recognition. This point seems to be the target location where focal attention is normally directed, following a primary global analysis based on the low spatial frequencies. Thus, the LC of a simple pattern may serve as the origin point for an object-centered-coordiate-frame (OCCF), dividing it into right and left. This, in turn, serves to create a prototype description of the pattern, in its own coordinates, in memory, to be addressed during subsequent recognition tasks. The best match of the percept with the stored description may explain the observed advantage of allocating attention to the LC. The performance of the brain- damaged patients can be explained in terms of neglect operating in the OCCE