Named after Reszö Bálint, the Hungarian neurologist who first reported the disorder in 1909, Balint's syndrome is a rare neuropsychological condition that arises from damage to the parietal and occipital lobes of the brain. The disorder involves three components, all of which are present in spite of normal visual acuity and field of view:
- simultanagnosia, or the inability to focus on multiple objects;
- optic ataxia, or an inability to move the hand to pick up an object;
- and ocular apraxia, or an inability to move the eyes to focus on a particular stimulus
Occasionally, Balint's syndrome is temporary, and will remit as the brain compensates for the injury; more commonly, however, the patient is left with a permanent disorder. Balint's syndrome is treated by helping patients learn to compensate for their deficits. For example, a patient can partially overcome ocular apraxia by learning to move his or her head, instead of his or her eyes, to look at something. Likewise, the optic ataxia can be partially ameliorated by having the patient practice catching a foam ball. Though these techniques cannot necessarily eliminate the disorder, they can help the patient live a more independent life.