The relationship between visuospatial neglect, spatial working memory and search behavior

Jasper Fabius, Antonia F Ten Brink, Stefan Van der Stigchel, Tanja C W Nijboer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (SciVal)


Visuospatial neglect (VSN) is characterized by a lateralized attentional deficit in the visual domain. In addition, patients with VSN might have an impairment in the temporary storage of spatial information in working memory (spatial working memory; SWM) that, like VSN, could impair systematic searching behavior. Several studies have demonstrated either SWM impairments or impaired searching behavior in VSN patients. Here, we related SWM performance to search behavior in patients with and without VSN. We assessed SWM using a novel task in a group of 182 stroke patients (24 with VSN, 158 without) and 65 healthy controls. We related SWM performance to available stroke-related and cognitive data. Patients with VSN exhibited lower SWM performance than patients without VSN and healthy controls. Additional control analyses indicated that differences in SWM performance are specific to visuospatial processing, instead of e.g. verbal working memory or the general level of physical disability. Last, we related SWM performance to visual search performance on cancellation tasks, one where their cancellation markings remained visible and another one where their prior cancellations markings were invisible to the patient and therefore patients had to remember which targets they had canceled. SWM performance correlated with search organization. Together, these results from a large sample of stroke patients corroborate the findings of earlier studies, while excluding several alternative explanations: SWM impairment is a part of the neglect syndrome, and SWM impairments are related to search behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-262
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology
Issue number3
Early online date3 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by a VIDI [Grant 452-13-008] and a VENI [Grant 451-10-013] from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research awarded to Stefan Van der Stigchel and Tanja Nijboer, respectively. We thank Marit Dorresteijn for assistance with the data collection

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, © 2020 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Visuospatial neglect
  • cancellation
  • spatial working memory
  • stroke
  • visual search

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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