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Neuroimage. 2001 Jul;14(1 Pt 2):S59-67.

The neural basis of vertical and horizontal line bisection judgments: an fMRI study of normal volunteers.

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Institute of Medicine, Forschungszentrum Jülich, Jülich, 52425, Germany.


Bisection of horizontal lines is used as a clinical test of spatial cognition in patients with left visuospatial neglect after right hemisphere lesions. Bisection of vertical lines has also been employed, albeit less frequently. Interestingly, normal subjects often bisect horizontal lines too far left and vertical lines too high. We used fMRI to investigate whether vertical/horizontal stimulus orientation interacts with the neural mechanisms associated with line bisection judgments (the Landmark task). For control of orientation per se, subjects performed a visual detection task with the same stimuli. Statistical analysis of evoked BOLD responses employed SPM99. The Landmark task increased neural activity (P < 0.05, corrected) in the superior and inferior parietal lobes bilaterally, though predominantly on the right; early visual processing areas bilaterally; and cerebellar vermis, left cerebellar hemisphere, anterior cingulate, and prefrontal cortex bilaterally. Vertical lines (relative to horizontal lines and vice versa) increased neural activity in early visual processing areas, consistent with differential retinotopic stimulation. In addition, vertical lines activated right parietooccipital and superior posterior parietal cortex bilaterally. No significant interactions between the neural mechanisms associated with task and stimuli were observed. Increased neural activation in parietal and parietooccipital cortex associated with vertical lines may reflect increased attentional demands associated with this stimulus orientation. The right hemispheric dominance observed in posterior parietal during the Landmark task irrespective of stimulus orientation is consistent with lesion studies. Our results suggest that the behavioral patterns observed in normal subjects and neurological patients result from different stimulus effects rather than differential task demands.

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