Attention modulates the visual field in healthy observers and parietal patients.
Russell C., Malhotra P., Husain M.
Recent attention research suggests that factors other than low-level sensory processes modulate perception across the visual field, with right parieto-temporal cortex playing a critical role in directing visual attention to peripheral events. Here we examine how different degrees of attentional demand at fixation dynamically affect detection of abrupt visual onsets in the periphery. In young healthy subjects, peripheral detection was significantly disrupted bilaterally when there was high attention demand at fixation. Right parieto-temporal lesioned patients, tested with a simplified version of task, demonstrated bilateral shrinkage of their available visual field, worse to the contralesional side, under increased attentional demand at fixation. These findings demonstrate how the effective visual field is dynamically modulated by the deployment of attention in health and, more severely, following right parieto-temporal damage.