Studies of eye movements in patients with Huntington's disease (HD) have suggested that frontal lobe-basal ganglia structures are more involved in HD than the parietal lobes. To test this hypothesis further we compared the ability of HD patients and normal subjects to direct "covert" visual attention, using saccade latency and thumb press reaction time tasks that have been shown to be sensitive to parietal lobe dysfunction. Subjects were instructed to move their eyes or to press a button when a peripheral target was illuminated. The peripheral stimulus appeared at various intervals after the appearance of a central arrow(s) that pointed in the direction of the target (valid cue), in the opposite direction (invalid cue), or pointed simultaneously in both directions (neutral cue). For both saccade and thumb press paradigms, the difference in the latencies for trials with invalid and valid cues was the same in HD patients and normals. These findings suggest that the ability to direct visual attention is normal in HD and are compatible with the hypothesis that in HD, frontal-basal ganglia circuits are more affected than parietal lobe pathways.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Behavioral Neuroscience