Visual compensation in cervical dystonia

Lynley Bradnam, Celia S. Chen, Rebecca Callahan, Sabrina Hoppe, Emily Rosenich, Tobias Loetscher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Visual-spatial processing can be affected in people with cervical dystonia (CD). These impairments have almost exclusively been observed in laboratory studies, but the impact of visuo-spatial impairments on daily activities is unclear. Here, we investigated how people living with CD visually explore the environment. Method: 21 participants (10 patients and 11 controls) walked a designated course searching for targets while their eye movements were tracked by the means of eye tracking glasses. In addition, all participants performed an extensive battery of spatial neglect tests. Results: People with CD visually compensated for their lateral head position. That is, they made more eye movements towards the side opposite their lateral head position. No evidence for or against spatial asymmetries were detected in a range of behavioral measures (target detection, standard neglect battery tests) on a group level. Yet, single patients showed a neglect-like pattern. One patient with a right torticollis failed to detect most left-sided targets when walking. Conclusion: In general, participants seem to adequately compensate for the deviated head posture when judging spatial stimuli. However, the insufficient spatial exploration in one patient with a valid driving license should raise awareness in clinicians to potential visuo-spatial problems in people living with CD. An interesting question arising from our findings is whether people with CD and marked visuo-spatial deficits would benefit from scanning training, as is employed in stroke rehabilitation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)769-774
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 9 Aug 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Dystonia
  • eye movements
  • neglect
  • scanning
  • visual attention

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