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Prog Brain Res. 2003;142:273-87.

Bottom-up transfer of sensory-motor plasticity to recovery of spatial cognition: visuomotor adaptation and spatial neglect.

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Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, Unité 534, 16 avenue Lépine, Case 13, 69676 Bron, France.


A large proportion of right-hemisphere stroke patients show hemispatial neglect, a neurological deficit of perception, attention, representation, and/or performing actions within their left-sided space, inducing many functional debilitating effects on everyday life, and responsible for poor functional recovery and ability to benefit from treatment. This spatial cognition disorder affects the orientation of behavior with a shift of proprioceptive representations toward the lesion side. This shift is similar to that produced by psychophysical manipulations as a wedge-prism exposure in normal healthy subjects. In both subjects, one major compensative effect of short-term prism adaptation is a shift of proprioceptive representations, demonstrated by a shift in manual straight-ahead pointing in the dark, in a direction opposite to the visual shift. In neglect patients, prism adaptation involves the shift of proprioceptive representations to the left with a reduction of rightward bias observed in neglect patients in visuo-manual tasks as line-bisection, line-cancellation or copy drawing. Improvement of neglect is also observed in no visuo-manual tasks as mental imagery, auditory extinction or posture. This generalization of prism adaptation effects at different neglect level symptoms suggests that the process of prism adaptation may activate brain functions related to multisensory integration and higher spatial representations. Moreover the positive effects found for both sensorimotor and more cognitive spatial functions lasted for at least two or more hours after prism removal. Unlike reduction of neglect through sensory stimulations, the long-lasting improvement of neglect after prism adaptation suggests the activation of short-term plasticity of brain functions related to coordinate transformations and space representations. Lastly, the duration of these effects could be useful in rehabilitation programs, as suggested by the effects of prism adaptation on disabling neglect symptoms as wheelchair driving, posture or writing.

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