Asymmetrical white matter networks for attending to global versus local features.
Chechlacz M., Mantini D., Gillebert CR., Humphreys GW.
The ability to draw objects is a complex process depending on an array of cognitive mechanisms including routines for spatial coding, attention and the processing of both local and global features. Previous studies using both neuropsychological and neuroimaging data have reported hemispheric asymmetries in attending to local versus global features linked to a variety of cortical loci. However, it has not been examined to date whether such asymmetries exist at the level of white matter pathways sub-serving global/local attention. The current study provides a comprehensive analysis of brain-behaviour relationships in the processing of local versus global features based on data from a large cohort of sub-acute stroke patients (n = 248) and behavioural measures from a complex figure copy task. The data analysis used newly developed methods for automated delineation of stroke lesions combined with track-wise lesion deficits procedures. We found (i) that reproduction of local features in figure copying was supported by a neural network confined to the left hemisphere, consisting of cortical loci within parietal, occipital and insular lobes and interconnected by the inferior-fronto-occipital fasciculus (IFOF), and (ii) that global feature processing was associated with a right hemisphere network interconnected by the third branch of the superior longitudinal fasciculus and the long segment of the perisylvian network. The data support the argument that asymmetrical white matter disconnections within long-range association pathways predict poor complex figure drawing resulting from deficits in hierarchical representation. We conclude that hemispheric asymmetries in attending to local versus global features exist on the level of both cortical loci and the supporting white matter pathways.