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Exploring somatosensory hemineglect by vestibular stimulation

Giuseppe Vallar , Gabriella Bottini , Maria Luisa Rusconi , Roberto Sterzi
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/brain/116.1.71 71-86 First published online: 1 February 1993


The effects of vestibular stimulation upon somatosensory deficits or tactile extinction contralateral to a hemispheric lesion were investigated in 20 right brain-damaged patients and 11 left brain-damaged patients. After stimulation, right brain-damaged patients showed a temporary partial recovery from left hemianaesthesia or extinction. Conversely, right somatosensory deficits associated with left brain damage were virtually unaffected by vestibular stimulation. Temporary recovery from somatosensory deficits was independent of the presence of visuo-spatial hemineglect. The suggestion is made that somatosensory deficits and extinction produced by right brain damage have an important non-sensory or perceptual component, that may be positively affected by vestibular stimulation. The mechanisms whereby this treatment may ameliorate somatosensory deficits may involve the restoration of the normal correspondence between somatotopic and egocentric representations of the body.

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