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Gordon Dutton’s Blog (4)

  • The way in which the brain maps what we are looking at, and cleverly persuades us, without us knowing, that this map is not really in our heads but is surrounding us, is complicated.
  • If children cannot describe their simultanagnosia, and parents and professionals they see have not heard of it, then the typical resulting behaviours are likely to be given a ‘behavioural’ label.

The way in which the brain maps what we are looking at, and cleverly persuades us, without us knowing, that this map is not really in our heads but is surrounding us, is complicated.

This means there are lots of patterns, and degrees of visual difficulty, when the brain mapping system is not working so well.

It is important to think of the possibility of reduced mapping ability when:

  • An MRI scan of the head shows evidence of brain injury at the top near the back on both sides (the posterior parietal lobes)
  • There is lack of the lower visual field on both sides, making it difficult to come down steps or slopes
  • Busy / cluttered scenes are difficult to handle
  • Reach is inaccurate

Simultanagnosia Spectrum

Simultanagnosia spectrum in children is said to be rare.

Why?

  • one has to have heard of it to seek it out
  • the subject is not common knowledge
  • children with it don't know they have it
  • children with it may well have the behaviours (described in the simultanagnosia spectrum sections) but these may have been attributed to other causes

The causes and patterns of behaviour described in the simultanagnosia spectrum sections need to be known, and then the condition may stand out.

Mary articulately describes her experiences in her section, but even Mary didn't know she had simultanagnosia for many years, until she learned, at a lecture, of the typical behaviours. Only then did she become conscious of the vision she lacked.

The condition ranges in severity. Mild specific difficulties in visual search are part of 'dorsal stream dysfunction', (this topic will no doubt be addressed in future on this website) while the severe end of the spectrum described here is
termed simultanagnosia, often (but not always) accompanied by inaccurate visual guidance of movement.

If children cannot describe their simultanagnosia, and parents and professionals they see have not heard of it, then the typical resulting behaviours are likely to be given a 'behavioural' label.

When simultanagnosia has been thought of as a possibility, questioned, recognised, understood and managed well, children's lives can be turned around, as shown by some of the stories described in this website.

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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.