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Eggert, Thomas ORCID: 0000-0003-1026-861X; Nguyen, Phuong Van; Ernst, Katharina; Loosli, Sandra V.; Straube, Andreas (2022): A new test to detect impairments of sequential visuospatial memory due to lesions of the temporal lobe. PLOS ONE. ISSN 1932-6203

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This study investigates visuospatial memory in patients with unilateral lesions of the temporal lobe and the hippocampus resulting from surgery to treat drug-resistant epilepsy. To detect impairments of visuospatial memory in these individuals, a memory test should be specific to episodic memory, the type of memory in which the hippocampus is crucially involved. However, most known visuospatial memory tests do not focus on episodic memory. We hypothesized that a new sequential visuospatial memory test, which has been previously developed and applied only in healthy subjects, might be suitable to fill this gap. The test requires the subject to reproduce a memorized sequence of target locations in ordered recall by typing on a blank graphics tablet. The length of the memorized sequence extended successively after repeated presentation of a sequence of 20 target positions. The test was done twice on day one and again after one week. Visual working memory was tested with the Corsi block-tapping task. The performance in the new test was also related to the performance of the patients in the standard test battery of the neuropsychological examination in the clinical context. Thirteen patients and 14 controls participated. Patients showed reduced learning speed in the new sequential visuospatial memory task. Right-sided lesions induced stronger impairments than left-sided lesions. After one week, retention was reduced in the patients with left-sided lesions. The performance of the patients in commonly used tests of the neuropsychological standard battery did not differ compared to healthy subjects, whereas the new test allowed discrimination between patients and controls at a high correct-decision rate of 0.89. The Corsi block-span of the patients was slightly shorter than that of the controls. The results suggest that the new test provides a specific investigation of episodic visuospatial memory. Hemispheric asymmetries were consistent with the general hypothesis of right hemispheric dominance in visuospatial processing.

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