Development of a partial balint's syndrome in a congenitally deaf patient presenting as pseudo-aphasia

Daniel L. Drane, Gregory P. Lee, Justin S. Huthwaite, David L. Tirschwell, Brett C. Baudin, Miguel Jurado, Basavaraj Ghodke, Holmes B. Marchman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


We present a 56 year-old, right-handed, congenitally deaf female who exhibited a partial Balint's syndrome accompanied by positive visual phenomena restricted to her lower right visual quadrant (e.g., color band, transient unformed visual hallucinations). Balint's syndrome is characterized by a triad of visuo-ocular symptoms that typically occur following bilateral parieto-occipital lobe lesions. These symptoms include the inability to perceive simultaneous events in one's visual field (simultanagnosia), an inability to fixate and follow an object with one's eyes (optic apraxia), and an impairment of target pointing under visual guidance (optic ataxia). Our patient exhibited simultanagnosia, optic ataxia, left visual field neglect, and impairment of all complex visual-spatial tasks, yet demonstrated normal visual acuity, intact visual fields, and an otherwise normal neurocognitive profile. The patient's visuo-ocular symptoms were noticed while she was participating in rehabilitation for a small right pontine stroke. White matter changes involving both occipital lobes had been incidentally noted on the CT scan revealing the pontine infarction. As the patient relied on sign language and reading ability for communication, these visuo-perceptual limitations hindered her ability to interact with others and gave the appearance of aphasia. We discuss the technical challenges of assessing a patient with significant barriers to communication (e.g., the need for a non-standardized approach, a lack of normative data for such special populations), while pointing out the substantial contributions that can be made by going beyond the standard neuropsychological test batteries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)715-728
Number of pages14
JournalClinical Neuropsychologist
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Balint's syndrome
  • Deafness
  • Optic apraxia
  • Optic ataxia
  • Simultanagnosia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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