The mechanisms of conscious perception are uncertain. In a preliminary study, dramatic effects of train duration on perception in a patient with right brain stroke were noted. In this study, the mechanisms of train duration on perception of peripheral somatosensory stimuli are examined. Subjects included healthy adults and patients with right brain infarctions. Train duration effects on perception were examined in relation to cerebral infarction, handedness, age, elevated peripheral threshold via bupivacaine, and impaired attention via diazepam or scopolamine. Perceptual thresholds to electrical pulses on the hand decreased as train duration increased, but only over the first several hundred milliseconds. Compared to controls, right brain stroke patients showed much greater lowering of threshold in the affected hand as train duration was extended. Age and bupivacaine elevated thresholds, but had little or no influence on train duration effects. Diazepam and scopolamine had no effect on thresholds. Thresholds were lower in the left than right hand of healthy dextral subjects, irrespective of age. Sinistral subjects had less left/right asymmetry. Increased train duration effect in patients is not explained by a primary elevation in threshold or by impaired vigilance. Lower perceptual thresholds in the left hand of healthy dextral subjects is consistent with right cerebral dominance for externally directed attention.
View details for Web of Science ID 000089386600006
View details for PubMedID 11012043