abstract Mario Bonato

Mario Bonato (Department of Experimental Psychology, Ghent University)

Spatial cognition: clinical studies, numerical processing and attentional orienting

I will provide an overview of my background research interests across three different domains related to spatial cognition.

1. We studied whether the degree of spatial awareness depends on the quantity of attentional resources that are available for task performance. We investigated this issue both in brain-damaged patients and in healthy participants. In patients, severe awareness deficits for contralesional space emerged under dual-task when attentional resources were consumed by a concurrent task, regardless of its nature. Under dual-task, healthy participants showed pupil diameter changes and N1 reduction.

2. We studied the effect of a visuospatial deficit on spatial-numerical interactions. We tested right hemisphere damaged patients with vs. without left neglect. In a parity task, no differences emerged between groups. In a magnitude task, neglect showed both a slowing for the number immediately larger than the reference and an increased SNARC for larger numbers. Similar findings in the processing of time-ordered sequences are discussed.

3. Voluntary orienting of spatial attention is typically investigated using centrally presented, predictive arrows. We assessed in healthy participants whether covert shifts of spatial attention could arise when removing both directionality and predictivity. A centrally-presented non-directional (color) cue informed participants about the side where attention had to be shifted. Unknown to them, cue were predictive only in half of the experiment. Reliable shifts of spatial attention emerged despite the absence of both directionality and predictivity. Crucially, predictive cueing led to larger spatial orienting effects, unrelated to the subjective cue predictivity estimates. We question the suitability of predictive cueing for isolating voluntary shifts of spatial attention.

Bio: Mario Bonato holds a master degree in Experimental Psychology and a Phd degree in Cognitive Science. He is currently post-doc at the Department of Experimental Psychology, UGent, where he collaborates to a project led by Wim Fias on number-space interactions. His research interests mainly focus on visuo-spatial attention impairment and its links with numerical cognition in brain-damaged patients (e.g. hemispatial neglect following stroke). Recently, he devised a new computer-based method for the diagnosis of visuo-spatial disorders following a brain damage. This new approach has great potential to ameliorate the sensitivity of the diagnostic testing for hemispatial neglect in the post-acute phase.

Web: http://community.frontiersin.org/people/MarioBonato/34942