Global processing of compound letters in a patient with Balint's syndrome

Lilach Shalev, Glyn Humphreys, Carmel Mevorach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


We report data on the ability of a patient with Balint's syndrome (GK) to process global information from compound letters. As with other patients with Balint's syndrome, GK was impaired at responding to large, global letters. In Experiment 1 we show that this was due to local capture rather than the absolute size of the stimuli. Also, despite his impairment with global letters, GK showed global interference on local judgements, indicating that some implicit processing took place at the global level. Interestingly, the inability to perceive large global letters was overcome when GK identified a solid, large prime letter prior to the onset of the compound figure (Experiment 2). This priming effect was temporary, and decreased as the interval between the prime and the compound letter increased (Experiment 3). When the prime was an English letter, the effect was maintained even when GK only had to identify the prime's colour, provided a colour-identification block of trials followed rather than preceded a block of trials where prime shapes had to be identified (Experiment 4). In contrast, there was no priming when GK had to identify the colour of English letter primes in a trial block following a block where the task was to identify the colour of Hebrew letter primes (Experiment 5). Overall the data indicate that local capture in Balint's syndrome can be overcome by actively priming a wide attentional window. The results can be interpreted in terms of an interaction between spatial attention and grouping processes that subserves the perception of global compound letters.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)737-751
Number of pages15
JournalCognitive Neuropsychology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2004


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