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Brain Cogn. 1990 Mar;12(2):240-66.

Hemispheric control of spatial attention.

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  • 1University of Toronto.


According to the activation-orienting hypothesis the distribution of attention in space is biased in the direction contralateral to the more activated hemisphere. The present investigation tested this proposal and evaluated the nature of hemispheric differences in orienting control. Activation imbalance was produced by a unilateral visual stimulus. The distribution of attention was measured using a modified line bisection task in which subjects judged the location of an intersect on a tachistoscopically presented horizontal line. The first three experiments suggest that (a) attention is biased in the direction contralateral to the stimulated hemisphere, and (b) the biases do not depend on the task relevance or hemispatial position of the stimulus producing the activation imbalance. The final three experiments suggest that when orienting conflict is introduced the rightward bias becomes more robust than the leftward bias. The findings are consistent with the activation-orienting hypothesis. Each hemisphere generates a contralateral attentional bias and the rightward bias of the left hemisphere is stronger. The relevance of these findings to understanding unilateral neglect resulting from parietal damage is discussed.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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