Right hemisphere control of visuospatial attention: Line-bisection judgments evaluated with high-density electrical mapping and source analysis

John J. Foxe, Mark E. McCourt, Daniel C. Javitt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

179 Scopus citations


The "line-bisection" task has proven an especially useful clinical tool for assessment of spatial neglect syndrome in neurological patients. Here, we investigated the neural processes involved in performing this task by recording high-density event-related potentials from 128 scalp electrodes in normal observers. We characterized a robust net negative potential from 170-400 ms poststimulus presentation that correlates with line-bisection judgments. Topographic mapping shows three distinct phases to this negativity. The first phase (∼170-190 ms) has a scalp distribution exclusively over the right parieto-occipital and lateral occipital scalp, consistent with generators in the region of the right temporo-parietal junction and right lateral occipital cortices. The second phase (∼190-240 ms) sees the emergence of a second negative focus over the right central parietal scalp, consistent with subsequent involvement of right superior parietal cortices. In the third phase (∼240-400 ms), the topography becomes dominated by this right central parietal negativity. Inverse source modeling confirmed that right hemisphere lateral occipital, inferior parietal, and superior parietal regions were the likeliest generators of the bulk of the activity associated with this effect. The line stimuli were also presented at three contrast levels (3, 25, and 100%) in order to manipulate both the latency of stimulus processing and the relative contributions from magnocellular and parvocellular inputs. Through this manipulation, we show that the line-bisection effect systematically tracks/follows the latency of the N1 component, which is considered a temporal marker for object processing in the ventral visual stream. This pattern of effects suggests that this task invokes an allocentric (object-based) form of visuospatial attention. Further, at 3% contrast, the line-bisection effect was equivalent to the effects seen at higher contrast levels, suggesting that parvocellular inputs are not necessary for successful performance of this task.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)710-726
Number of pages17
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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