Loetscher, Tobias and Nicholls, Michael E. R. and Towse, John N. and Bradshaw, John L. and Brugger, Peter (2010) Lucky numbers : spatial neglect affects physical, but not representational, choices in a Lotto task. Cortex, 46 (5). pp. 685-690. ISSN 0010-9452
Spatial neglect can be characterized by a “magnetic attraction” towards the right side of a visual stimulus array and a selection of stimuli from that hemispace. This study examined whether these distinctive characteristics in visuo-motor space are also evident in representational number space. Given that numbers are thought to be represented along a left-to-right oriented mental number line, an affinity for the spontaneous selection of larger numbers was anticipated for neglect patients. Contrary to this expectation, neglect patients (n = 20) picked a similar range of numbers compared to controls (n = 17) when generating a number between 1000 and 10 000 and when playing an imaginary lottery game. There was, however, a positive correlation between the biases for the imaginary lottery, number generation and a number bisection task – demonstrating that exploration asymmetries along the mental number line are consistent within individuals across tasks. Some of the patients selected smaller numbers in all of these tasks, confirming reports of dissociations between physical and numerical-representational forms of neglect. Conversely, only four (20%) of the patients could reliably be classified as demonstrating a neglect in number space. When filling out a physical lottery ticket, the neglect patients showed the expected bias towards picking numbers placed on the right-hand side of the ticket. These results demonstrate that the magnetic attraction towards the right side of mental representations is rather weak and that representational forms of neglect only occasionally co-exist with neglect in physical space.
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