A deficit in discriminating gaze direction in a case with right superior temporal gyrus lesion

Tomoko Akiyama, Motoichiro Kato, Taro Muramatsu, Fumie Saito, Ryoko Nakachi, Haruo Kashima

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Citations (Scopus)


The superior temporal sulcus (STS) region is well recognized as being heavily involved in detecting and discriminating gaze. Lesions confined to this area are quite rare in humans, and so the research has mainly depended on animal studies and functional neuroimaging in normal human subjects. We report one such rare case, a 54-year-old Japanese female with a possible congenital s anomaly who, after a cerebral hemorrhage, demonstrated a lesion almost completely confined to the entire right superior temporal gyrus (STG). In the subacute phase, the patient showed evidence of left hemispatial neglect, from which she gradually recovered. In the chronic phase, she showed a puzzling difficulty in obtaining eye-contact. We have conducted, in conjunction with conventional neuropsychological evaluations, experimental assessment of her ability in gaze cognition. Her performance on neuropsychological testing demonstrated no compromise in intellect, memory, or language skills, and a close-to-full recovery from neglect. On gaze cognition experiments, she was repeatedly shown to perceive left gaze as straight, and to a lesser degree, straight gaze as right. We suggest that the function of the STG in detecting gaze, together with the directional information it receives from earlier visual areas, may be associated, when damaged, with this deficit in detecting contra-directional gaze. We have demonstrated for the first time that a single circumscribed lesion to the STG results in both gaze processing deficit and concurrent aberrant gaze behavior of the victim herself, implicating a mechanism within the STG as an interface between gaze of others and gaze of self.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-170
Number of pages10
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Biological motion
  • Gaze
  • Hemianopia
  • Superior temporal gyrus
  • Superior temporal sulcus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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