Compensatory strategies following visual search training in patients with homonymous hemianopia: an eye movement study.
Mannan SK., Pambakian AL., Kennard C.
A total of 29 patients with homonymous visual field defects without neglect practised visual search in 20 daily sessions, over a period of 4 weeks. Patients searched for a single randomly positioned target amongst distractors displayed for 3 s. After training patients demonstrated significantly shorter reaction times for search stimuli (Pambakian et al. in J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 75:1443-1448, 2004). In this study, patients achieved improved search efficiency after training by altering their oculomotor behaviour in the following ways: (1) patients directed a higher proportion of fixations into the hemispace containing the target, (2) patients were quicker to saccade into the hemifield containing the target if the initial saccade had been made into the opposite hemifield, (3) patients made fewer transitions from one hemifield to another before locating the target, (4) patients made a larger initial saccade, although the direction of the initial saccade did not change as a result of training, (5) patients acquired a larger visual lobe in their blind hemifield after training. Patients also required fewer saccades to locate the target after training reflecting improved search efficiency. All these changes were confined to the training period and maintained at follow-up. Taken together these results suggest that visual training facilitates the development of specific compensatory eye movement strategies in patients with homonymous visual field defects.