Split-brain patients neglect left personal space during right-handed gestures

Lausberg, H., Kita, S., Zaidel, E., & Ptito, A. (2003). Split-brain patients neglect left personal space during right-handed gestures. Neuropsychologia, 41(10), 1317-1329. doi:10.1016/S0028-3932(03)00047-2.
Since some patients with right hemisphere damage or with spontaneous callosal disconnection neglect the left half of space, it has been suggested that the left cerebral hemisphere predominantly attends to the right half of space. However, clinical investigations of patients having undergone surgical callosal section have not shown neglect when the hemispheres are tested separately. These observations question the validity of theoretical models that propose a left hemispheric specialisation for attending to the right half of space. The present study aims to investigate neglect and the use of space by either hand in gestural demonstrations in three split-brain patients as compared to five patients with partial callosotomy and 11 healthy subjects. Subjects were asked to demonstrate with precise gestures and without speaking the content of animated scenes with two moving objects. The results show that in the absence of primary perceptual or representational neglect, split-brain patients neglect left personal space in right-handed gestural demonstrations. Since this neglect of left personal space cannot be explained by directional or spatial akinesia, it is suggested that it originates at the conceptual level, where the spatial coordinates for right-hand gestures are planned. The present findings are at odds with the position that the separate left hemisphere possesses adequate mechanisms for acting in both halves of space and neglect results from right hemisphere suppression of this potential. Rather, the results provide support for theoretical models that consider the left hemisphere as specialised for processing the right half of space during the execution of descriptive gestures.
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