Sunday, January 22, 2012

Virtual reality and neuropsychology

Thank you to Katie Kirby and Gloria Smith for a link to this interesting article on assessing visual neglect using virtual reality.

I wonder how our testing will change over the next two decades. I have to admit that while I enjoy geeky things, I will find it hard to give up the simplicity of paper and pencil tests, especially when it comes to result interpretation.

Neurorehabil Neural Repair. 2012 Feb;26(2):120-31. Epub 2011 Jul 11.

Mapping the neglected space: gradients of detection revealed by virtual reality. Dvorkin AY, Bogey RA, Harvey RL, Patton JL. 1Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA.


BACKGROUND: Spatial neglect affects perception along different dimensions. However, there is limited availability of 3-dimensional (3D) methods that fully map out a patient's volume of deficit, although this could guide clinical management.

OBJECTIVE: To test whether patients with neglect exhibit simple contralesional versus complex perceptual deficits and whether deficits are best described using Cartesian (rectangular) or polar coordinates.

METHODS: Seventeen right-hemisphere persons with stroke (8 with a history of neglect) and 9 healthy controls were exposed to a 3D virtual environment. Targets placed in a dense array appeared one at a time in various locations.

RESULTS: When tested using rectangular array of targets, subjects in the neglect group exhibited complex asymmetries across several dimensions in both reaction time and target detection rates. Paper-and-pencil tests only detected neglect in 4 of 8 of these patients. When tested using polar array of targets, 2 patients who initially appeared to perform poorly in both left and near space only showed a simple left-side asymmetry that depended almost entirely on the angle from the sagittal plane. A third patient exhibited left neglect irrespective of the arrangements of targets used. An idealized model with pure dependence on the polar angle demonstrated how such deficits could be misconstrued as near neglect if one uses a rectangular array.

CONCLUSIONS: Such deficits may be poorly detected by paper-and-pencil tests and even by computerized tests that use regular screens. Assessments that incorporate 3D arrangements of targets enable precise mapping of deficient areas and detect subtle forms of neglect whose identification may be relevant to treatment strategies.


Great web resource

Katie Kirby sent me a link to a fabulous Australian resource for the use of smart phones in head injury rehabilitation. The website has been a part of the Implementing and evaluating Smart Phone Applications technology across the NSW Brain Injury Rehabilitation Program (BIRP).

The site is great, with a multitude of resources for the patients, carers and clinicians. There are too many goodies to list them here. Definitively have a look.

The link is:

Thank you, Katie,


Saturday, January 14, 2012

Help for dyslexics and very poor spellers

Typ-O is an application that helps those with low spelling skills. It has knowledge of the most common spelling mistakes and predicts which words are likely to be used, thus being able to suggest corrections even in a very poorly spelled text.

The corrections can be read aloud by a synthetic voice to help choose the correct spelling of each word. Also, the finished text can be read through by the synthetic voice to check for spelling mistakes.

The text then can be pasted into other applications, such as Word, email, etc.

The application is available for Mac, iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch, and one can get it from the App Store.

I am not aware of any similar applications for the PC and Android systems - we need people familiar with these systems to contribute to this blog!

If you would like to write some posts, either regularly or just once, please contact me on


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Animation of biomechanics and pathology of concussion

Faye Simpson has recently forwarded to npinoz some information from Paul Kelly about his animation of biomechanics and pathophysiology of concussions.

For those of who haven't seen the post, you can find the animation on Paul's Kelly's website at

It is a very nicely presented 4-minute film. It is free to share with colleagues, but you need to contact him if using it commercially.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Digital gadgets outperform diaries in brain injury rehabilitation

I have always thought that a nice iPhone is better than a paper diary, both for neuropsychologists and their clients. It beeps at you when you need to do something, and unlike a paper diary, it is generally in your pocket or your handbag.

Your typical young male with head injury is particularly prone to forgetting his diary. He usually tells you that he forgot it, while he is sitting across from you at a desk on which lies his mobile phone.

Well, I have came upon a study that formally proves the superiority of electronic gizmos in a nice, controlled study. It comes from Royal Rehabilitation Centre in Sydney, and the Chief Investigator is Belinda Carr, Occupational Therapy Leader. To read a press release, go to

I will try to contact her and ask her about her work in this area. Watch this space.


Monday, January 2, 2012

Some more holiday art

While we are at it, here are some art brains made from food. If you want a closer look, follow the link on the website.


Scientifically Accurate Fabric Brain Art

Internet has everything. For a light holiday reading head to the Museum of Scientifically Accurate Fabric Brain Art at . Please note that "we cannot accept responsibility for the consequences of using fabric brain art as a guide for functional magnetic resonance imaging, trans-cranial magnetic stimulation, neurosurgery, or single-neuron recording."


PS: for wooden brain art head to:

Have a great 2012.