Cognitive Neurology

Lead: Professor Masud Husain


Disorders of perception, attention and action control are common in many neurological disorders. The research focus of this Group is the investigation and development of treatments for such deficits. By combining new behavioural methods to measure such impairments, with neuroimaging and neuropharmacological techniques, novel therapeutic strategies are being developed for cognitive disorders, particularly following stroke. In the UK, more than a quarter of the population aged over 45 will suffer a stroke. Many patients (more than 70%) are left with visual, cognitive and motor deficits, and there is a huge unmet need for treatments for these conditions. Basic research in cognitive neuroscience and motor control now provides a theoretical framework to attempt translation of laboratory findings effectively into the clinical arena. We work in both the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and the Institute of Neurology. Our interest is to apply new scientific findings to improve current understanding and treatment in these fields.

Current projects

Visual neglect and inattention following stroke

Prof Masud Husain

Visual deficits following stroke are common. Failure to explore one side of space is particularly disabling. If it endures, such hemispatial neglect is associated with a poor prognosis for functional independence. We have developed a theoretical framework for understanding the cognitive deficits that contribute to the neglect syndrome, and begun exploratory treatment studies.


For example, our investigations have revealed that many patients with visual neglect fail to keep track of spatial locations across eye movements, often re-fixating (revisiting) locations they have already explored. Such findings led to the discovery that some neglect patients have a limited capacity to maintain spatial information, even for items presented in a vertical array.

Other patients with neglect have impairments in the ability to sustain attention over time, even for items presented at the centre of the visual field. Our recent investigation with guanfacine, an alpha-2 noradrenergic drug, demonstrates that some stroke patients with neglect may show significant improvements in both their sustained attention and spatial deficits following administration of the drug. However, this may depend upon the integrity of prefrontal brain regions following stroke.

New studies are examining the interaction of spatial and sustained attention, as well as encoding of visual salience in the neglect syndrome. In addition, we hope to explore the effects of dopaminergic treatment in the condition.

To learn more about visual neglect and inattention following stroke click here.

The role of medial prefrontal cortex in cognition and action

Prof Masud Husain

Recent research into medial prefrontal cortex suggests it plays a criticalrole in the control of behaviour. Our studies have examined the deficits of patients with damage to this region, as well as investigating the role played by subregions within medialfrontal cortex in healthy individuals using functional

imaging. For example, the pre-SMA (pre-supplementary motor area) appears to be crucial for switching from one ongoing action plan to another. This area has also been linked to the movement deficits that may occur in patients with Parkinson’s disease.

More information about current research

Information for Patients

If you have visual neglect or inattention following stroke and would like to participate in our research, please write to:

Professor Masud Husain
National Hospital for Neurology & Neurosurgery
Queen Square
London WC1N 3BG

It would be helpful to give a contact telephone number or e-mail.

Support groups/ useful links:

Research Team

Professor of Clinical Neurology & Wellcome Trust Senior Fellow in Clinical Science

  • Masud Husain

Research Fellows

  • Dr Paul Bays
  • Dr Elizabeth Coulthard
  • Dr Victoria Singh-Curry
  • Richard Roberts
  • Albert Hoang (visiting)
  • Dr Robert Adam

Teaching Activity


MD/PhD supervision

  • Prof Masud Husain
  • Dr Elizabeth Coulthard (PhD)
  • Dr Victoria Singh-Curry (PhD)
  • Richard (Ed) Roberts (Imperial) (PhD)
  • Dr Robert Adam (PhD)

Postgraduate teaching

Prof Masud Husain - MSc Clinical Neuroscience course

Selected Publications

For full list visit: the ICN Publications web site

Bays PM & Husain M. (2008) Dynamic shifts of limited working memory resources in human vision.
Science 321: 851-854

Nachev P, Kennard C & Husain M (2008) Functional role of supplementary and pre-supplementary motor areas.
Nature Reviews Neuroscience 9:856-869.

Coulthard,E., Nachev,P., Husain,M. (2008). Control over conflict during movement preparation: Role of posterior parietal cortex.
Neuron 58(1), 144-157

Sumner,P., Nachev,P., Morris,P., Peters,A.M., Jackson,S.R., Kennard,C., Husain,M. (2007). Human medial frontal cortex mediates unconscious inhibition of voluntary action.
Neuron 54, 697-711.

Husain,M., Nachev,P. (2007). Space and the parietal cortex.
Trends in Cognitive Sciences 11, 30-36.

Parton,A., Nachev,P., Hodgson,T., Mort,D., Thomas,D., Ordidge,R., Morgan,P., Jackson,S., Rees,G. Husain,M. (2007). Role of the human supplementary eye field in the control of saccadic eye movements.
Neuropsychologia 45, 997-1008

Bird,C.M., Malhotra,P., Parton,A., Coulthard,E., Rushworth,M.F., Husain,M. (2006). Visual neglect after right posterior cerebral artery infarction.
Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry 77, 1008-1012.

Coulthard,E., Parton,A., Husain,M. (2006). Action control in visual neglect.
Neuropsychologia 44, 2717-2733.

Coulthard,E., Singh-Curry,V., Husain,M. (2006). Treatment of attention deficits in neurological disorders.
Current Opinion in Neurology 19, 613-618

Malhotra,P., Parton,A., Greenwood,R., Husain,M. (2006). Noradrenergic modulation of space exploration in visual neglect.
Annals of Neurology 59, 186-190

Parton,A., Malhotra,P., Nachev,P., Ames,D. Ball,J., Chataway,J., Husain,M. (2006). Space re-exploration in hemispatial neglect.
NeuroReport 17, 833-836

Malhotra,P., Jager,R., Parton,A., Greenwood,R., Playford,D.T., Brown,M.M., Driver,J., Husain,M. (2005). Spatial working memory capacity in unilateral neglect.
Brain 128, 424-435

Mannan,S.K., Mort,D.J., Hodgson,T.L., Driver,J., Kennard,C., Husain,M. (2005). Revisiting previously searched locations in visual neglect: Role of right parietal and frontal lesions in misjudging old locations as new.
Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 17, 340-354

Nachev,P., Rees,G., Parton,A., Kennard,C., Husain,M. (2005). Volition and conflict in human medial frontal cortex.
Current Biology 15, 122-128

Parton,A., Coulthard,E., Husain,M. (2005). Neuropharmacological modulation of cognitive deficits after brain damage.
Current Opinion in Neurology 18, 675-680

Jackson,S., Newport,R., Mort,D., Husain,M. (2005). Where the eye looks, the hand follows: limb-dependent magnetic misreaching in optic ataxia.
Current Biology 15, 42-46

Bentley,P., Husain,M., Dolan,R.J. (2004). Effects of cholinergic enhancement on visual stimulation, spatial attention, and spatial working memory.
Neuron 41, 969-982

Bird,C.M., Castelli,F., Malik,O., Frith,U., Husain,M. (2004). The impact of extensive medial frontal lobe damage on 'Theory of Mind' and cognition.
Brain 127, 914-928

Parton,A., Malhotra,P., Husain,M. (2004). Hemispatial neglect.
Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry 75, 13-21.

Husain,M., Parton,A., Hodgson,T.L., Mort,D., Rees,G. (2003). Self-control during response conflict by human supplementary eye field.
Nature Neuroscience 6, 117-118

Husain M & Rorden C (2003). Non-spatially lateralized mechanisms in hemispatial neglect.
Nature Reviews Neuroscience 4, 26-36

Shapiro K, Hillstrom A, Husain M (2002) Control of visuotemporal attention by inferior parietal and superior temporal cortex.
Current Biology 12: 1320-1325

Husain M, Mattingley J, Driver J, Rorden C and Kennard C (2000). Dissociation of sensory and motor impairments in parietal and frontal neglect.
Brain 123, 1643-1659

Rees G, Wojciulik E, Clarke K, Husain M, Frith C and Driver J (2000). Unconscious activation of visual cortex in the damaged right hemisphere of a parietal patient with extinction.
Brain 123, 1624-1633.

Mattingley JB, Husain M, Rorden C, Kennard C and Driver J (1998). Motor role of human inferior parietal lobe revealed in unilateral neglect patients.
Nature 392, 179-182

Wolpert D, Goodbody S and Husain M (1998). Maintaining internal representations: the role of the human superior parietal lobe.
Nature Neuroscience 1, 529-533

Husain M, Shapiro K, Martin, J. and Kennard C (1997). Abnormal temporal dynamics of visual attention in spatial neglect patients.
Nature 385, 154-156

Sources of Support

Page last modified on 20 feb 14 15:23