Supramodal agnosia for oblique mirror orientation in patients with periventricular leukomalacia, Cortex.

Periventricular leukomalacia (PVL) is characterized by focal necrosis at the level of the periventricular white matter, often observed in preterm infants. PVL is frequently associated with motor impairment and with visual deficits affecting primary stages of visual processes as well as higher visual cognitive abilities. Here we describe six PVL subjects, with normal verbal IQ, showing orientation perception deficits in both the haptic and visual domains. Subjects were asked to compare the orientation of two stimuli presented simultaneously or sequentially, using both a two alternative forced choice (2AFC) orientation-discrimination and a matching procedure. Visual stimuli were oriented gratings or bars or collinear short lines embedded within a random pattern. Haptic stimuli comprised two rotatable wooden sticks. PVL patients performed at chance in discriminating the oblique orientation, both for visual and haptic stimuli. Moreover when asked to reproduce the oblique orientation, they often oriented the stimulus along the symmetric mirror orientation. The deficit generalized to stimuli varying in many low level features, was invariant for spatiotopic object orientation, and also occurred for sequential presentations. The deficit was specific to oblique orientations, and not for horizontal or vertical stimuli. These findings show that PVL can affect a specific network involved with the supramodal perception of mirror symmetry orientation.

Asymmetrical interference between number and item size perception provides evidence for a domain specific impairment in dyscalculia.

Dyscalculia, a specific learning disability that impacts arithmetical skills, has previously been associated to a deficit in the precision of the system that estimates the approximate number of objects in visual scenes (the so called ‘number sense’ system). However, because in tasks involving numerosity comparisons dyscalculics’ judgements appears disproportionally affected by continuous quantitative dimensions (such as the size of the items), an alternative view linked dyscalculia to a domain-general difficulty in inhibiting task-irrelevant responses. To arbitrate between these views, we evaluated the degree of reciprocal interference between numerical and non-numerical quantitative dimensions in adult dyscalculics and matched controls. We used a novel stimulus set orthogonally varying in mean item size and numerosity, putting particular attention into matching both features’ perceptual discriminability. Participants compared those stimuli based on each of the two dimensions. While control subjects showed no significant size interference when judging numerosity, dyscalculics’ numerosity judgments were strongly biased by the unattended size dimension. Importantly however, both groups showed the same degree of interference from the unattended dimension when judging mean size. Moreover, only the ability to discard the irrelevant size information when comparing numerosity (but not the reverse) significantly predicted calculation ability across subjects. Overall, our results show that numerosity discrimination is less prone to interference than discrimination of another quantitative feature (mean item size) when the perceptual discriminability of these features is matched, as here in control subjects. By quantifying, for the first time, dyscalculic subjects’ degree of interference on another orthogonal dimension of the same stimuli, we are able to exclude a domain-general inhibition deficit as explanation for their poor / biased numerical judgement. We suggest that enhanced reliance on non-numerical cues during numerosity discrimination can represent a strategy to cope with a less precise number sense. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)