Visual perception and verbal descriptions as sources for generating mental representations: Evidence from representational neglect

M Denis, N Beschin, R H Logie, S Della Sala

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In the majority of investigations of representational neglect, patients are asked to report information derived from long-term visual knowledge. In contrast, studies of perceptual neglect involve reporting the contents of relatively novel scenes in the immediate environment. The present study aimed to establish how representational neglect might affect (a) immediate recall of recently perceived, novel visual layouts, and (b) immediate recall of novel layouts presented only as auditory verbal descriptions. These conditions were contrasted with reports from visual perception and a test of immediate recall of verbal material. Data were obtained from 11 neglect patients (9 with representational neglect), 6 right-hemisphere lesion control patients with no evidence of neglect, and 15 healthy controls. In the perception, memory following perception, and memory following layout description conditions, the neglect patients showed poorer report of items depicted or described on the left than on the right of each layout. The lateralised error pattern was not evident in the non-neglect patients or healthy controls, and there was no difference among the three groups on immediate verbal memory. One patient showed pure representational neglect, with ceiling performance in the perception condition, but with lateralised errors for memory following perception or following verbal description. Overall, the results indicate that representational neglect does not depend on the presence of perceptual neglect, that visual perception and visual mental representations are less closely linked than has been thought hitherto, and that visuospatial mental representations have similar functional characteristics whether they are derived from visual perception or from auditory linguistic descriptive inputs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-112
Number of pages16
JournalCognitive Neuropsychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2002



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