Global versus local processing in Balint's Syndrome

Balint's syndrome is a rare disorder usually caused by brain injury to both sides of the parietal lobe following a stroke. This region of the brain is involved in cognition, information processing, spatial orientation, and sensations of pain and touch. People with Balint's are unable to pay attention to more than one object at a time, experience spatial difficulty locating objects, and have trouble accurately reaching for objects. While there is a lack of research into these complex symptoms, preliminary research suggests these patients focus on the “local” elements of an object, instead of the “global” whole. For example, they may not see :-) as a smiling happy-face icon, but as a colon, dash or bracket. Kirsten Dalrymple is studying how Balint's patients perceive objects by presenting them with stimuli such as the happy-face icon that can be perceived globally or locally. This research could result in rehabilitation strategies to improve patients’ ability to perceive everyday objects as others perceive them, which will improve their quality of life and ability to function normally.