Shifting attention in viewer- and object-based reference frames after unilateral brain injury

Alexandra List, Ayelet N. Landau, Joseph L. Brooks, Anastasia V. Flevaris, Francesca C. Fortenbaugh, Michael Esterman, Thomas M. Van Vleet, Alice R. Albrecht, Bryan D. Alvarez, Lynn C. Robertson, Krista Schendel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The aims of the present study were to investigate the respective roles that object- and viewer-based reference frames play in reorienting visual attention, and to assess their influence after unilateral brain injury. To do so, we studied 16 right hemisphere injured (RHI) and 13 left hemisphere injured (LHI) patients. We used a cueing design that manipulates the location of cues and targets relative to a display comprised of two rectangles (i.e., objects). Unlike previous studies with patients, we presented all cues at midline rather than in the left or right visual fields. Thus, in the critical conditions in which targets were presented laterally, reorienting of attention was always from a midline cue. Performance was measured for lateralized target detection as a function of viewer-based (contra- and ipsilesional sides) and object-based (requiring reorienting within or between objects) reference frames. As expected, contralesional detection was slower than ipsilesional detection for the patients. More importantly, objects influenced target detection differently in the contralesional and ipsilesional fields. Contralesionally, reorienting to a target within the cued object took longer than reorienting to a target in the same location but in the uncued object. This finding is consistent with object-based neglect. Ipsilesionally, the means were in the opposite direction. Furthermore, no significant difference was found in object-based influences between the patient groups (RHI vs. LHI). These findings are discussed in the context of reference frames used in reorienting attention for target detection.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)2090-2096
Number of pages7
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jun 2011
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported in part by the Office of Research and Development (Clinical Sciences R&D), Department of Veteran Affairs. VA funding was provided by VA Merit Grant 98-11-00065 awarded to Principal Investigator, Lynn C. Robertson, as well as VA Merit Grant 05-09-00371 awarded to Thomas M. Van Vleet. Other support was provided by R01 EY016975 and R01 MH62331 awarded to L.C. Robertson; by F32 NS05553 grant awarded to A. List; by T32 MH62997 awarded to J.L. Brooks and A. V. Flevaris; and by an NSF-GRF to F. C. Fortenbaugh.


  • Attention
  • Brain injury
  • Neglect
  • Objects
  • Reference frames
  • Space


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