Assessment of spatial attention after brain damage with a dynamic reaction time test

Leon Y. Deouell*, Yaron Sacher, Nachum Soroker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


Lateralized spatial biases after brain damage are commonly assessed using batteries of paper-and-pencil tests. These tests hardly allow quantification of performance in different locations in space, and they tend to lose sensitivity along the course of recovery. We tested the dynamic Starry Night Test (SNT), a novel computerized test measuring reaction time and detection accuracy for visual target stimuli in a dynamic background, in 32 inpatients with right hemisphere stroke (RHS), 16 patients with left hemisphere stroke (LHS), and 9 healthy controls. As a group, only the RHS patients were significantly slower to respond to contralesional targets. Individually, 21 (66%) RHS patients and 5 (31%) LHS patients showed statistically significant contralateral deficits. In a number of RHS patients the SNT was more sensitive to the ipsilesional bias of spatial attention than the Behavioral Inattention Test (BIT), a standardized paper-and-pencil test battery of unilateral spatial neglect. Two illustrative case reports show that the dynamic SNT, but not the BIT, was sensitive to the spatial deficit in recovered patients, one of whom was involved in repeated car accidents. The SNT overcomes serious shortcomings of paper-and-pencil tests of unilateral neglect. It provides a simple quantitative tool for monitoring the natural and treatment-induced recovery of patients.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)697-707
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the International Neuropsychological Society
Issue number6
StatePublished - Oct 2005


  • Attention
  • Computer-assisted diagnosis
  • Reaction time
  • Recovery of function
  • Space Perception
  • Unilatera spatial neglect


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