Electrophysiologic evidence of increased distractibility after dorsolateral prefrontal lesions


Patients with left prefrontal lesions and control subjects showed enhanced event-related potentials (ERPs) to attended tone sequences presented in a dichotic attention task. ERP enhancements were comparable at short and long interstimulus intervals (ISIs), and did not depend upon whether attended stimuli were preceded by other attended stimuli or by distracting stimuli in the opposite ear. In contrast, patients with right prefrontal lesions showed absent ERP attention effects to contralateral (left ear) tones at all ISIs, and reduced attention effects to ipsilateral tones at long ISIs and when these were preceded by distracting sounds. The results are consistent with an asymmetric organization of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, and indicate that increased distractibility may contribute to the attention disorders that follow prefrontal lesions.