Is there a critical lesion site for unilateral spatial neglect? A meta-analysis using activation likelihood estimation

Pascal Molenberghs, Martin V. Sale, Jason B. Mattingley

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The critical lesion site responsible for the syndrome of unilateral spatial neglect has been debated for more than a decade. Here we performed an activation likelihood estimation (ALE) to provide for the first time an objective quantitative index of the consistency of lesion sites across anatomical group studies of spatial neglect. The analysis revealed several distinct regions in which damage has consistently been associated with spatial neglect symptoms. Lesioned clusters were located in several cortical and subcortical regions of the right hemisphere, including the middle and superior temporal gyrus, inferior parietal lobule, intraparietal sulcus, precuneus, middle occipital gyrus, caudate nucleus, and posterior insula, as well as in the white matter pathway corresponding to the posterior part of the superior longitudinal fasciculus. Further analyses suggested that separate lesion sites are associated with impairments in different behavioral tests, such as line bisection and target cancellation. Similarly, specific subcomponents of the heterogeneous neglect syndrome, such as extinction and allocentric and personal neglect, are associated with distinct lesion sites. Future progress in delineating the neuropathological correlates of spatial neglect will depend upon the development of more refined measures of perceptual and cognitive functions than those currently available in the clinical setting.
Original languageEnglish
Article number78
Number of pages10
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
Issue numberMARCH 2012
Publication statusPublished - 10 Apr 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • unilateral spatial neglect
  • extinction
  • lesion mapping
  • ALE meta-analysis
  • line bisection
  • cancellation task

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