Foundations Of Cognitive Science

Unilateral Neglect

Unilateral neglect is a neurological disorder in which patients display a paucity of response to stimuli that appear contralateral to the side of the lesion (Bisiach & Vallar, 1988; Rafal, 1994). Neglect is more often associated with right hemisphere damage, especially when this damage includes the regions of the inferior parietal lobule and/or the temporal-parietal junction. It may also occur, however, after damage to other brain structures.

There are a number of interesting manifestations of neglect in the patient's everyday life. For example, neglect patients may not shave or dress on the contralesional side of their bodies, and may ignore food on the contralesional side of the plate. With regards to cognitive functioning, neglect patients demonstrate a deficit in response to stimuli presented to the contralesional side, and even to the contralesional side of imagined scenes. There is controversy over how these sides are defined, and this has lead to much recent work regarding the spatial frames of reference through which neglect may be manifested (Guariglia et al., 1993; Tipper & Behrmann, 1996).


  1. Bisiach, E., & Vallar, G. (1988). Hemineglect in humans. In F. Boller and J.Grafman (Eds.) Handbook of Neuropsychology, Vol. 1. Elsevier: Amsterdam. pp. 195-222.
  2. Guariglia, C. Padovani, A., Pantano, P., & Pizzamiglio, L. (1993). Unilateral neglect restricted to visual imagery. Nature, 364, 235-237.
  3. Rafal, R. D. (1994). Neglect. Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 4, 231-236.
  4. Tipper, S. P., & Behrmann, M. (1996). Object-based not scene-based visual neglect. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 22, 1261-1278.

(Revised February 2010)