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Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience

September 2010, Vol. 22, No. 9, Pages 2141-2150
(doi: 10.1162/jocn.2009.21315)
© 2009 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The Role of Temporo-parietal Cortex in Subcortical Visual Extinction
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Visual extinction is an intriguing defect of awareness in stroke patients, referring to the unsuccessful perception of contralesional events under conditions of competition. Previous studies have investigated the cortical and subcortical brain structures that, when damaged or inactivated, provoke visual extinction. The present experiment asked how lesions of subcortical structures may contribute to the appearance of visual extinction. We investigated whether lesions centering on right basal ganglia may induce dysfunction in distant, structurally intact cortical structures. Normalized perfusion-weighted MRI was used to identify structurally intact but abnormally perfused brain tissue, that is, zones that are receiving enough blood supply to remain structurally intact but not enough to function normally. We compared patients with right basal ganglia lesions showing versus not showing visual extinction. In the extinction patients, the contrast revealed cortical malperfusion that clustered around the right TPJ. It seems as if malfunction of this area is a critical aspect in visual extinction not only after cortical lesion but also in the case of subcortical basal ganglia damage. Our results support the idea that a normally functioning TPJ area plays a decisive role for the attentional network involved in detecting of visual stimuli under conditions of competition.