Testing for spatial neglect with line bisection and target cancellation: Are both tasks really unrelated?

Pascal Molenberghs, Martin V. Sale

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38 Citations (Scopus)


Damage to the parietal lobe can induce a condition known as spatial neglect, characterized by a lack of awareness of the personal and/or extrapersonal space opposite the damaged brain region. Spatial neglect is commonly assessed clinically using either the line bisection or the target cancellation task. However, it is unclear whether poor performance on each of these two tasks is associated with the same or different lesion locations. To date, methodological limitations and differences have prevented a definitive link between task performance and lesion location to be made. Here we report findings from a voxel-based lesion symptom mapping (VLSM) analysis of an unbiased selection of 44 patients with a recent unifocal stroke. Patients performed both the line bisection and target cancellation task. For each of the two tasks a continuous score was incorporated into the VLSM analysis. Both tasks correlated highly with each other (r = .76) and VLSM analyses indicated that the angular gyrus was the critical lesion site for both tasks. The results suggest that both tasks probe the same underlying cortical deficits and although the cancellation task was more sensitive than the line bisection task, both can be used in a clinical setting to test for spatial neglect.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere23017
Number of pages5
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jul 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • spatial neglect
  • line bisection
  • target cancellation
  • lesion mapping
  • VLSM

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