The contribution of peripheral, data-driven effects is contrasted with conceptual, ‘top-down’ effects to the reading performance of 2 subjects with neglect dyslexia following a single right hemisphere lesion. Several tasks were administered, manipulating the physical, lexical or morphemic properties of the stimuli in an attempt to establish whether the attentional deficit disrupts reading at an early or late stage of processing. Both subjects were impaired at detecting elementary stimulus features on the left side of the display but were even more impaired at identifying conjoined features. One subject's performance was influenced by structural manipulations which altered the low-level representation of the stimulus. The other was less affected by structural changes of the stimuli but was influenced by the lexical and morphemic status of the words. This apparent double dissociation is interpreted as arising from a graded attentional deficit at a single locus, early in the reading process where low-level information is detected. When the deficit is not severe sufficient information may be picked up and may interact with higher order lexical knowledge to offset partially the peripheral malfunction. For a severe attentional deficit, top-down knowledge is not engaged as insufficient information is processed on the left-hand side. This hybrid view of attention provides insight into the mechanisms underlying neglect dyslexia and bears on the role of attention in normal visual processing.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/marlene_behrmann/115/