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Behavioural Neurology
Volume 26 (2013), Issue 3, Pages 175-177

Lateralization of Spatial Relation Processing in Natural Scenes

Ineke J. M. van der Ham,1 Martine J. E. van Zandvoort,1,2 and Albert Postma1,2

1Helmholtz Institute, Experimental Psychology, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands
2Department of Neurology, University Medical Centre Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands

Received 21 May 2012; Accepted 21 May 2012

Copyright © 2013 Hindawi Publishing Corporation and the authors. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Spatial relations between objects can be represented in a categorical and in a coordinate manner. Categorical representations reflect abstract relations, like ‘left of’ or ‘under’, whereas coordinate representations concern exact metric distances between objects. These two types of spatial relations are thought to be linked to a left hemisphere and a right hemisphere advantage, respectively. This lateralization pattern was examined in a visual search task, making use of natural scenes, in patients with unilateral brain damage and healthy controls. In addition, all participants performed a low-level spatial relation processing task. The results suggest that the lateralization pattern commonly found for spatial relation processing in low-level perceptual tasks is also applicable to the processing of complex visual scenes.