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J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2008 Mar;14(2):309-17. doi: 10.1017/S135561770808034X.

Low arousal modulates visuospatial attention in three-dimensional virtual space.

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Department of Neurology-Section Neuropsychology, University Hospital RWTH Aachen, Aachen, Germany.


Clinical, experimental, and functional imaging studies suggest overlapping neuronal networks and functional interactions of alertness and visuospatial attention within the right hemisphere of the brain. To examine the interaction of arousal and visuospatial attention in peripersonal and extrapersonal virtual space, we tested 20 healthy male adults during 24 hr of sleep deprivation at four points during the night (9 p.m., 1 a.m., 5 a.m., and 9 a.m.). The main finding concerning covert orienting in a virtual environment is a highly significant slowing of reorientation toward the left visual hemifield in extrapersonal space due to decreased arousal. The results provide additional evidence for the proposed anatomical and functional overlap of the two attentional systems and indicate a modulation of visuospatial attention by the level of arousal in extrapersonal space.

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