Research lays foundations for brain damage study

June 6, 2014, University of Queensland
Research lays foundations for brain damage study

Researchers at The University of Queensland have made a key step that could eventually offer hope for stroke survivors and other people with brain damage.

The international study, led by researchers at UQ, could help explain a debilitating neurological condition known as unilateral spatial neglect, which commonly occurs after a stroke causing damage to the right side of the brain.

People with this condition become unaware of the left side of their sensory world, making everyday tasks such as eating and dressing almost impossible to perform.

ARC Discovery Early Career Research Fellow Dr Marta Garrido from UQ's Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) said this lack of awareness on the left side, might be caused by an uneven brain network that involves interactions between different brain regions.

"Patients with spatial neglect are impaired in attending to sensory information on the left or the right side of space, but this inability is a lot stronger for objects coming from the left," she said.

"This research has enabled us to establish what happens in a healthy brain, so that we can then further understand exactly what goes on in the brain of someone who is experiencing spatial neglect."

QBI co-investigator and ARC Australian Laureate Fellow Professor Jason Mattingley said the human brain performed many functions in an uneven way.

"We already know that in a healthy brain even basic perception can be lopsided. For example, when we look at others' faces we tend to focus more on the left than the right side," he said.

"Research like this helps us take a key step in understanding some of the puzzling symptoms observed in people following brain damage."

The researchers at QBI collaborated with UQ's School of Psychology, and colleagues from Aarhus University in Denmark, and University College London in the UK.

The study involved recording electrical activity in the brains of healthy adult volunteers using electroencephalography (EEG) while listening to sequences of sounds from the left, right or centre.

The next step for the researchers will be to study how people with use the left and right sides of the when perceiving visual objects and sounds.  

Explore further: Researchers find spatial awareness shifts right as people fall asleep

More information: "Effective Connectivity Reveals Right-Hemisphere Dominance in Audiospatial Perception: Implications for Models of Spatial Neglect." Martin J. Dietz, et al. The Journal of Neuroscience, 2 April 2014, 34(14): 5003-5011; DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3765-13.2014

Related Stories

Researchers find spatial awareness shifts right as people fall asleep

June 3, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—A team of researchers working at Cambridge University in the U.K. has found that spatial awareness shifts to the right when people are falling asleep. In their paper published in the journal Scientific ...

Research holds out hope for stroke patients

May 21, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- People with a curious condition that causes them to apply make-up on only one side of their face, or ignore food on half of their plate, are playing a new role in understanding stroke recovery.

Brain imaging study reveals our brains 'divide and conquer'

July 18, 2013
University of Queensland (UQ) researchers have found human brains 'divide and conquer' when people learn to navigate around new environments.

New therapy helps to improve audio and visual perception in stroke patients

March 4, 2014
A stroke can cause permanent damage to important parts of the brain, with the result that many stroke survivors require lifelong care and support. 'It is not uncommon for stroke patients to suffer from an awareness deficit ...

Offering a reward can improve visual awareness in stroke patients

November 26, 2012
Stroke patients who have difficulty paying attention to part of their visual field may perform better when offered a reward, a study by Imperial College London and Brunel University researchers has found.

Recommended for you

Brain zaps may help curb tics of Tourette syndrome

January 16, 2018
Electric zaps can help rewire the brains of Tourette syndrome patients, effectively reducing their uncontrollable vocal and motor tics, a new study shows.

Researchers identify protein involved in cocaine addiction

January 16, 2018
Mount Sinai researchers have identified a protein produced by the immune system—granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF)—that could be responsible for the development of cocaine addiction.

A 'touching sight': How babies' brains process touch builds foundations for learning

January 16, 2018
Touch is the first of the five senses to develop, yet scientists know far less about the baby's brain response to touch than to, say, the sight of mom's face, or the sound of her voice.

New study reveals why some people are more creative than others

January 16, 2018
Creativity is often defined as the ability to come up with new and useful ideas. Like intelligence, it can be considered a trait that everyone – not just creative "geniuses" like Picasso and Steve Jobs – possesses in ...

Neuroscientists suggest a model for how we gain volitional control of what we hold in our minds

January 16, 2018
Working memory is a sort of "mental sketchpad" that allows you to accomplish everyday tasks such as calling in your hungry family's takeout order and finding the bathroom you were just told "will be the third door on the ...

Miles Davis is not Mozart: The brains of jazz and classical pianists work differently

January 16, 2018
Keith Jarret, world-famous jazz pianist, once answered in an interview when asked if he would ever be interested in doing a concert where he would play both jazz and classical music: "No, that's hilarious. [...] It's like ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.