Those Who See Without Looking: The Curious Phenomenon Of Hemineglect

Hemineglect

A camera, when it is recording, captures images. But behind that camera there is always a filmmaking team that pays attention and gives importance to the information that has been captured. Prepares information, manipulates it, selects it, understands it. It processes it and then shows the result of that processing to an audience that will store that information and use it later.

Our brain works the same We capture stimuli, we receive information from the outside constantly through our eyes and, just like a film director would do, it is processed by our brain and stored for use in other moments of our daily lives.

But what would happen if the lens of that camera captured images for a while, but then no attention was paid to all the information it had captured and it simply sat there, useless, useless? This is what happens to people who have an attention disorder called hemineglect or spatial negligence.

What is hemineglect?

Hemineglect is a disorder that appears as a result of acquired brain damage (for example, a brain tumor, ischemia or hemorrhage) in the right posterior parietal lobe, mainly. Precisely since it is in the right hemisphere and since the pathways that go up to the brain are contralateral (they cross each other, going from one side to the other), everything that the left eye captures is what is not processed later.

The key to this disorder is that the left side of what is in the focus of attention is not processed no attention is paid to it.

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People who suffer from this disorder experience some situations in their daily lives such as the following: they apply makeup only on the left side of their face (since the right side of the face that is reflected in the mirror is captured by the left eye), At meal time they only eat the right side of the plate and everything must be placed on this side. When they try to read, they fragment sentences and words, so what they read does not make any sense and they have to make it up. Likewise, they also have problems writing, since they do not handle spaces well. In addition, this disorder also affects the limbs on the left side, since they do not see them and forget to use them.

How is it different from blindness?

The difference between blindness and hemineglect is that A blind person can learn to locate objects in a 360-degree space, with difficulties, of course, but achieving it. This is due, in part, to the fact that the person knows that there is “something” in that space and is aware that, although they do not see the objects that are there, in the end they manage to achieve a little normality in their life despite the limitations. . On the other hand, for a person with hemineglect, his space only has 180 degrees, because the other 180 are not there for him. People who suffer from this disorder have anosognosia (lack of awareness of illness).

As a result of this, it can be thought that, on some occasions, this “creation equipment” that we have in our brain is more important than the lens that captures images, because in the future we may be able to change that lens for another if it is damaged. But… Will we one day be able to change a damaged cognitive function for a functional one?

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Currently there are various techniques to rehabilitate people who suffer from this pathology. The objective of said rehabilitation is not to cure hemineglect, since this is a chronic disorder. However, work is being done to teach people who suffer from it how to live with the disorder and have a better quality of life. Some of the most effective techniques are the use of prisms (placing these next to the right eye so the person could see what is to their left by looking in the mirror) and cognitive reeducation (teaching the patient that they should turn head to the left enough to be able to perceive the entire visual field with the right eye).

Author: Maria Vega Sanz