J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 84:366-369 doi:10.1136/jnnp-2012-303169
  • Cognitive neurology
  • Short report

Reward modulates spatial neglect

Open Access
  1. Charlotte Russell2
  1. 1Division of Brain Sciences, Imperial College London, London, UK
  2. 2Centre for Cognition and Neuroimaging, Department of Psychology, Brunel University, Greater London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Paresh Malhotra, Division of Brain Sciences, Imperial College London, 10 E Charing Cross Campus, London W6 8RP, UK; p.malhotra{at}
  • Received 7 May 2012
  • Revised 9 August 2012
  • Accepted 22 August 2012
  • Published Online First 15 October 2012


Background Reward has been shown to affect attention in healthy individuals, but there have been no studies addressing whether reward influences attentional impairments in patients with focal brain damage.

Methods Using two novel variants of a widely-used clinical cancellation task, we assessed whether reward modulated impaired attention in 10 individuals with left neglect secondary to right hemisphere stroke.

Results Reward exposure significantly reduced neglect, as measured by total targets found, left-sided targets found and centre of cancellation, across the patient group. Lesion analysis showed that lack of response to reward was associated with damage to the ipsilateral striatum.

Conclusions This is the first experimental evidence that reward can modulate attentional impairments following brain damage. These results have significant implications for the development of behavioural and pharmacological therapies for patients with attentional disorders.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial License, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non commercial and is otherwise in compliance with the license. See: and

Open Access

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