EFFICIENT behaviour in the visual environment requires selection between stimuli competing for control of action. Many current models of selection are spatial: relevant objects are chosen by attending to their locations1–3. The unilateral stimulus extinction observed following lesions of the parietal lobe provides evidence for spatial selection4. Such patients may identify a single stimulus presented in their contralesional field, but can fail to detect the same stimulus when a competing stimulus is shown simultaneously on the ipsilesional side5. Here we demonstrate that extinction need not be spatial in nature, but may be determined by characteristics of the objects to be selected. In two patients with parietal lobe lesions and poor spatial localization, pictures extinguished words and closed shapes extinguished open shapes. This object-based extinction indicates the existence of biases within non-spatial selection mechanisms which are independent of biases produced by spatial selection mechanisms. We suggest that selection of objects for action requires that the 'winners' produced by the independent competitive biases for selection are bound together within distinct neural areas concerned with object properties and space.
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Humphreys, G., Romani, C., Olson, A. et al. Non-spatial extinction following lesions of the parietal lobe in humans. Nature 372, 357–359 (1994). https://doi.org/10.1038/372357a0
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