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A case of unilateral neglect in Huntingdon's Disease
Ho, A.K., MANLY, T., Nestor, P.J., Sahakian, B.J., Robbins, T.W., Rosser, A.E., & Barker, R.A.
Neurocase, 9(3), 261-273
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Unilateral neglect, an attentional deficit in detecting and acting on information coming from one side of space is a relatively common consequence of right hemisphere stroke. Although neglect has been observed following damage to a variety of brain structures, to date no reports exist of neglect phenomena arising from Huntington’s Disease (HD). However, reports in the animal and human literature suggest that neglect is possible following damage to a primary site for Huntington’s pathology, the basal ganglia. Here we present a patient (BG) with genetically proven HD who, in the context of the mild intellectual, executive and attentional impairments associated with the disorder, showed a remarkably severe and stable neglect for left space. MRI and electrophysiological results make it unlikely that the spatial bias could be accounted for by basic sensory loss. In addition, behavioural investigation indicated that, although BG’s neglect operated in a very striking manner along body-centred co-ordinates (missing almost all information presented to her left), more general limitations in visual attention were apparent to the left-side of information presented entirely to the right of the body midline. Further evidence is presented showing that the neglect was manifest on tactile and auditory tasks as well as those presented in the visual domain. The presence of neglect in HD in this case is novel and somewhat puzzling, particularly as flourodeoyglucose postiron emission tomography revealed bilateral caudate hypoperfusion. Reducing the statistical threshold on this analysis revealed a potential frontal hypometabolism that was more marked in the right than left hemisphere. However, as this was only apparent at a threshold below that normally considered acceptable (due to the resulting number of false positives), this possible account of the neglect must be viewed very cautiously.