Bihemispheric leftward bias in a Visuospatial attention-related network Academic Article uri icon


  • Asymmetry of spatial attention has long been described in both disease (hemispatial neglect) and healthy (pseudoneglect) states. Although right-hemisphere specialization for spatial attention has been suggested, the exact neural mechanisms of asymmetry have not been deciphered yet. A recent functional magnetic resonance imaging study from our laboratory serendipitously revealed bihemispheric left-hemifield superiority in activation of a visuospatial attention-related network. Nineteen right-handed healthy adult females participated in two experiments of visual half-field presentation. Either facial expressions (experiment 1) or house images (experiment 2) were presented unilaterally and parafoveally for 150 ms while subjects were engaging a central fixation task. Brain regions previously associated with a visuospatial attention network, in both hemispheres, were found to be more robustly activated by left visual field stimuli. The consistency of this finding with manifestations of attention lateralization is discussed, and a revised model based on neural connectivity asymmetry is proposed. Support for the revised model is given by a dynamic causal modeling analysis. Unraveling the basis for attention asymmetry may lead to better understanding of the pathogenesis of attention disorders, followed by improved diagnosis and treatment. Additionally, the proposed model for asymmetry of visuospatial attention might provide important insights into the mechanisms underlying functional brain lateralization in general.

publication date

  • January 1, 2007