Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Blindsight and insight in visuo-spatial neglect


In a variety of neurological syndromes, patients may show tacit awareness of stimuli that cannot be consciously recollected or identified1. Such dissociations are the defining characteristic of 'blindsight'2,3; comparable phenomena are seen in some patients with amnesia4 and some with prosopagnosia, a profound impairment of familiar face recognition5. We report here an analogous dissociation between overt and covert perception in a case of visuo-spatial neglect6. The patient, P.S., had sustained right cerebral damage and failed overtly to process information in the hemispace contralateral to lesion. In common with most patients who manifest left-sided neglect, P.S. has a left homonymous hemianopia. Nonetheless, her neglect persists despite free movement of the head and eyes and is thus not a direct consequence of sensory loss in the left visual field. P.S. was presented simultaneously with two line drawings of a house, in one of which the left side was on fire. She judged that the drawings were identical; yet when asked to select which house she would prefer to live in, she reliably chose the house that was not burning.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. Schacter, D. L., McAndrews, M. P. & Moscovitch, M. in Thought Without Language (ed. Weiskrantz, L.) 242–278 (Clarendon, Oxford, 1988).

    Google Scholar 

  2. Pöppel, E., Held, R. & Frost, D. Nature 243, 295–296 (1973).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  3. Weiskrantz, L., Warrington, E. K., Sanders, M. D. & Marshall, J. Brain 97, 709–728 (1974).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. Milner, B., Corkin, S. & Teuber, H.-L. Neuropsychologia 6, 215–234 (1968).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Bauer, R. M. Neuropsychologia 22, 457–469 (1984).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Jeannerod, M. (ed.) Neuropsychological and Neurophysiological Aspects of Spatial Neglect (North-Holland, Amsterdam, 1987).

  7. Kinsbourne, M. & Warrington, E. K. J. Neurol. Neurosur. Psychiat. 25, 339–344 (1962).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Weiskrantz, L. Brain 110, 77–92 (1987).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. de Haan, E. H. F., Young, A. W. & Newcombe, F. Cognitive Neuropsychol. 4, 385–415 (1987).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Volpe, B. T., Ledoux, J. E. & Gazzaniga, M. S. Nature 282, 722–724 (1979).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  11. Karnath, H.-O. & Hartje, W. J. Neurol. 234, 180–184 (1987).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  12. Fodor, J. A. The Modularity of Mind (MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1983).

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Marshall, J., Halligan, P. Blindsight and insight in visuo-spatial neglect. Nature 336, 766–767 (1988).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing