Benefits of Endogenous Spatial Attention During Visual Double-Training in Cortically-Blinded Fields

Matthew R. Cavanaugh, Duje Tadin, Marisa Carrasco, Krystel R. Huxlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recovery of visual discrimination thresholds inside cortically-blinded (CB) fields is most commonly attained at a single, trained location at a time, with iterative progress deeper into the blind field as performance improves over several months. As such, training is slow, inefficient, burdensome, and often frustrating for patients. Here, we investigated whether double-location training, coupled with a covert spatial-attention (SA) pre-cue, could improve the efficiency of training. Nine CB participants completed a randomized, training assignment with either a spatial attention or neutral pre-cue. All trained for a similar length of time on a fine direction discrimination task at two blind field locations simultaneously. Training stimuli and tasks for both cohorts were identical, save for the presence of a central pre-cue, to manipulate endogenous (voluntary) SA, or a Neutral pre-cue. Participants in the SA training cohort demonstrated marked improvements in direction discrimination thresholds, albeit not to normal/intact-field levels; participants in the Neutral training cohort remained impaired. Thus, double-training within cortically blind fields, when coupled with SA pre-cues can significantly improve direction discrimination thresholds at two locations simultaneously, offering a new method to improve performance and reduce the training burden for CB patients. Double-training without SA pre-cues revealed a hitherto unrecognized limitation of cortically-blind visual systems’ ability to improve while processing two stimuli simultaneously. These data could potentially explain why exposure to the typically complex visual environments encountered in everyday life is insufficient to induce visual recovery in CB patients. It is hoped that these new insights will direct both research and therapeutic developments toward methods that can attain better, faster recovery of vision in CB fields.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number771623
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
StatePublished - Apr 14 2022


  • cortical blindness
  • covert spatial attention
  • hemianopia
  • motion perception
  • perceptual learning
  • rehabilitation
  • stroke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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