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Non-lateralised deficits in anti-saccade performance in patients with hemispatial neglect

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We tested patients suffering from hemispatial neglect on the anti-saccade paradigm to assess voluntary control of saccades. In this task participants are required to saccade away from an abrupt onset target. As has been previously reported, in the pro-saccade condition neglect patients showed increased latencies towards targets presented on the left and their accuracy was reduced as a result of greater undershoot. To our surprise though, in the anti-saccade condition, we found strong bilateral effects: the neglect patients produced large numbers of erroneous pro-saccades to both left and right stimuli. This deficit in voluntary control was present even in patients whose lesions spared the frontal lobes. These results suggest that the voluntary control of action is supported by an integrated network of cortical regions, including more posterior areas. Damage to one or more components within this network may result in impaired voluntary control.

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