Attention and interference in the processing of global and local information: effects of unilateral temporal-parietal junction lesions


The processing of hierarchical stimuli was examined in patients with lesions in the temporal-parietal junction. In separate blocks of trials, subjects were instructed to identify the letter at the local or the global level of a hierarchical stimulus. Consistent with previous findings, reaction times for controls were faster in the globally than in the locally directed condition and reaction times to the local level were longer when the letters at the two levels were different (e.g. local "S"s forming a global "H") than when they were the same (e.g. local "S"s forming a global "S"). In other words, controls exhibited interference when locally directed. Patients with lesions centered in the rostral inferior parietal lobe (IPL) showed interference effects similar to controls. In contrast, patients with lesions centered in the posterior superior temporal gyrus and adjacent caudal inferior parietal lobe (STG) showed no interference. The data suggest that the posterior superior temporal plane and adjacent caudal inferior parietal lobe plays an important role in the integration of and/or attention to local and global level information.