Pseudoneglect and neglect for mental alphabet lines

M.E.R. Nicholls, Andrea Loftus

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33 Citations (Scopus)


While patients with right parietal damage neglect the left side of stimuli, the intact-brain population shows a slight neglect of the right side—known as pseudoneglect. Although pseudoneglect occurs for physical stimuli, it is not certain whether the bias extends to mental representations. To investigate this issue, we examined spatial distortions in the representation of length for mental alphabet lines, which are thought to have a left-to-right arrangement. In Expt. 1, participants (n = 10) were presented with letter strings (e.g. C_H_P) and estimated whether the letter length was greater on the left or right side of the inner-letter. The strings were presented simultaneously along a line or sequentially in the centre of the screen in either an ascending (i.e. A–Z) or descending (i.e. Z–A) sequence. Participants reliably overestimated the length on the left regardless of presentation mode. In Expt. 2, participants (n = 20) judged whether the inner-letter was the true centre. Responses were biased such that inner-letters shifted to the left of true centre were perceived to be the centre. Combined, both studies demonstrate that the length on left side of the mental alphabet line is overestimated relative to the right. In Expt. 3, a reversal of the bias towards the right was found for a group of neglect patients. The data demonstrate that letters have a left-to-right mental representation and that the left side of this representation is overrepresented in a manner similar to the overestimation associated with pseudoneglect for physical stimuli.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)130-138
JournalBrain Research
Publication statusPublished - 2007


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