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2. Competing Simultanagnostic Vision

When Simon, who has simultanagnosia, studied this picture of balloons, his mother relayed:

His attention is drawn to the purple balloon at the top left. He can see each thing clearly as he scans the picture, but he keeps being drawn back to the balloon.

When Mary studied the picture below, she noted...

I can see one red balloon but I am more drawn to looking at the old man to the right of the balloon as his face is more interesting. I then flicked from his face to the man on the left, before heading back to the man on the right again. I can see in this flicking around that there are more balloons, but I can't tell you how many at just a glance.

On my second look at the photo, I tried to take my time to focus on each element of the scene more. However, I was still drawn to the old man first, not the balloons.

For both Simon and Mary, even when they use strategies to visually explore their surroundings, they can be almost involuntarily repeatedly drawn back to one element. This element has meaning for each person.

For a child in a class, the resulting behaviour may look like they are unable or unwilling to stay focused. The terms 'apply yourself' and 'concentrate' may be used, when actually they are trying very hard, but have little control over this non-conscious visual process.


  • I sometimes find it hard to stay visually focused on one thing
  • I get frustrated trying, and can see that people don't think I really am trying


  • Inability to stay focused
  • Seems easily distracted
  • Easily gets stressed and frustrated

Profoundly Disabled People

In profoundly disabled people, Competing Simultanagnostic Vision may come across, in addition to the above as:

  • Seeming to be obsessed with one toy or object
  • Staring at a single thing
  • A seeming unwillingness to change focus


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At CVI Scotland we are devoted to helping people understand cerebral visual impairments, and together working towards developing the understanding of this complex condition.