During the past 20 years there has been much research into the factors that modulate awareness of contralesional information in neurological patients with visual neglect or extinction. However, the potential role of the individual's emotional state in modulating awareness has been largely overlooked. In the current study, we induced a pleasant and positive affective response in patients with chronic visual neglect by allowing them to listen to their pleasant preferred music. We report that the patients showed enhanced visual awareness when tasks were performed under preferred music conditions relative to when tasks were performed either with unpreferred music or in silence. These results were also replicated when positive affect was induced before neglect was tested. Functional MRI data showed enhanced activity in the orbitofrontal cortex and the cingulate gyrus associated with emotional responses when tasks were performed with preferred music relative to unpreferred music. Improved awareness of contralesional (left) targets with preferred music was also associated with a strong functional coupling between emotional areas and attentional brain regions in spared areas of the parietal cortex and early visual areas of the right hemisphere. These findings suggest that positive affect, generated by preferred music, can decrease visual neglect by increasing attentional resources. We discuss the possible roles of arousal and mood in generating these effects.
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
Visual neglect overcome by pleasant music
Soto et al. make the fascinating observation that positive emotions can overcome the neglect of part of the visual field that can result from brain lesions: