Journal Article

Functional circuitry underlying visual neglect

R. Jarrett Rushmore, Antoni Valero-Cabre, Stephen G. Lomber, Claus C. Hilgetag and Bertram R. Payne

in Brain

Published on behalf of The Guarantors of Brain

Volume 129, issue 7, pages 1803-1821
ISSN: 0006-8950
Published online May 2006 | e-ISSN: 1460-2156 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/brain/awl140
Functional circuitry underlying visual neglect

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Visuospatial neglect is a common neurological syndrome caused by unilateral brain damage to the posterior and inferior parietal cerebral cortex, and is characterized by an inability to respond or orient to stimuli presented in the contralesional hemifield. Neglect has been elicited in experimental models of the rat, cat and monkey, and is thought to result in part from a pathological state of inhibition exerted on the damaged hemisphere by the hyperexcited intact hemisphere. We sought to test this theory by assessing neural activity levels in multiple brain structures during neglect using 2-deoxyglucose (2DG) as a metabolic marker of neural activity. Neglect was induced in two ways: (i) by cooling deactivation of posterior parietal cortex or (ii) in conjunction with broader cortical blindness produced by unilateral lesion of all contiguous visual cortical areas spanning occipital, parietal and temporal regions. The direction and magnitude of changes in 2DG uptake were measured in cerebral cortex and midbrain structures. Finally, the 2DG uptake was assessed in a group of cats in which the lesion-induced neglect component of blindness was cancelled by cooling of either the contralateral posterior parietal cortex or the contralateral superior colliculus (SC). Overall, we found that (i) both lesion- and cooling-induced neglect are associated with decreases in 2DG uptake in specific ipsilateral cortical and midbrain regions; (ii) levels of 2DG uptake in the intermediate and deep layers of the SC contralateral to both cooling and lesion deactivations are increased; (iii) changes in 2DG uptake were not identified in the contralateral cortex; and (iv) reversal of the lesion-induced neglect component of blindness is associated with a reduction of contralesional 2DG uptake to normal or subnormal levels. These data are in accord with theories of neglect that include mutually suppressive mechanisms between the two hemispheres, and we show that these mechanisms operate at the level of the SC, but are not apparent at the level of cortex. These results suggest that the most effective therapies for visual neglect will be those that act to decrease neural activity in the intermediate layers of the SC contralateral to the brain damage.

Keywords: visuospatial neglect; superior colliculus; animal models; parietal cortex; visual perception

Journal Article.  9838 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Neurology ; Neuroscience

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