Prism adaptation and spatial attention: A study of visual search in normals and patients with unilateral neglect

Adam P. Morris, Ada Kritikos, Nadja Berberovic, Laure Pisella, Christopher D. Chambers, Jason B. Mattingley

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Visuomotor adaptation to a prism-induced lateral displacement of the visual field induces mild perceptual biases in healthy individuals and improves symptoms of unilateral neglect. The present study employed a speeded visual search task to test the hypothesis that prism adaptation induces an adaptive redistribution of selective spatial attention. In Experiment 1, 32 neurologically healthy, right-handed participants were adapted to a 15° prism-induced lateral (left or right) displacement of the visual field. Spatial attention was measured by search time and error-rate in unique-feature ("preattentive") and feature-absent ("serial") visual search tasks, before and after prism adaptation. The single target appeared at different locations within arrays of 12, 24 or 48 items. Contrary to the attentional hypothesis, the pattern of search performance across the display remained unchanged following prism adaptation. In Experiment 2, we tested four patients with unilateral right hemisphere damage on the visual search tasks, before and after adaptation to 15° rightward-displacing prisms. All four patients showed a pathological gradient of spatial attention toward the ipsilesional side prior to adaptation. Consistent with the results from Experiment 1, the gradient in search performance shown by the patients did not change following prism adaptation. Taken together, these findings suggest that the perceptual aftereffects in normals and amelioration of unilateral neglect following prism adaptation are not mediated by an adaptive redistribution of spatial attention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)703-721
Number of pages19
Issue number4-5
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Aftereffects
  • Attention
  • Prism adaptation
  • Right hemisphere
  • Spatial neglect
  • Visual search

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