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Neuropsychologia. 1998 Nov;36(11):1141-59.

Saccadic eye movement and working memory deficits following damage to human prefrontal cortex.

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  • 1Department of Sensorimotor Systems, Imperial College School of Medicine, London, UK. robin.walker@rhbnc.ac.uk


A patient with a lesion confined largely to the right inferior frontal gyrus was found to be impaired on tests of spatial working memory and executive functioning. By contrast, his pattern recognition was good. The patient's selective impairments are consistent with the view that prefrontal cortex contributes to processes involved in spatial working memory. The patient was also tested on a range of oculomotor paradigms, some of which required the temporary suppression of a saccadic response. He was unable to suppress making contra- or ipsilesional reflexive glances to peripheral stimuli on the "anti-saccade" paradigm, but his performance improved on delayed saccade, memory-guided saccade and fixation tasks. Although reflexive glances were observed under these conditions they occurred more frequently in response to contralesional stimuli than ipsilesional ones. Furthermore, the patient had no difficulty in performing anti-point movements with his ipsilesional hand. Thus, his inability to suppress reflexive glances on the anti-saccade task is not due to a generalised problem of "distractibility". The patient's deficits are discussed in terms of models of anti-saccade generation and are related to recent findings regarding the role of prefrontal cortex in working memory and visual attention.

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