Trunk Orientation Induces Neglect-like Lateral Biases in Covert Attention

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Psychology (CMC)

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The purpose of this study was to resolve a paradox in the literature on the effects of body orientation on spatial attention. Neuropsychological studies have found that real or simulated trunk rotation relieves contralesional inattention in patients with unilateral neglect, suggesting that trunk orientation affects how attention is allocated to space. However, in two previous studies, trunk orientation did not affect spatial attention in other populations. In this study, we investigated the effects of trunk orientation on the performance of a covert attention task by neurologically intact adults. The covert attention task allowed the evaluation of the effects of trunk orientation on both the allocation of attention to space and the ability to shift that attention to new locations. As in previous research, trunk orientation did not affect participants' response times (RTs) to validly cued targets. However, rotating participants' trunks to the left increased their RTs to invalidly cued targets on the right and decreased their RTs to invalidly cued targets on the left. These results indicate that trunk orientation induces directional biases in the ability to shift attention. Thus, for intact participants, trunk rotation created lateral biases in the covert attention task similar to those seen in neglect patients.

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© 2002 American Psychological Society