Control of attention in schizophrenia

Paul Birkett, Andrew Brindley, Phillip Norman, Glynn Harrison, Alan Baddeley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The deficits of attention contribute significantly to the clinical picture of functional disability seen in schizophrenia, but there is no consensus as to whether this cognitive function can be fractionated to allow further characterisation of the impairment. We examined fifteen patients with chronic schizophrenia and fifteen controls using paired tasks designed to measure four hypothetical aspects of attentional control: the ability to focus attention, to resist distraction, to shift attention, and to divide attention. The group with schizophrenia showed a significant improvement in accuracy on a digit span repetition task when a simultaneous box-crossing task was added (divided attention condition). Although the patient group showed impaired performance across nearly all of the tasks, they were not disproportionately impaired during the task conditions assumed to demand greater attention. These results suggest that the aspects of attention and executive function under study are not significantly affected by schizophrenia and indicate the need for further characterisation of the impairment usually reported using conventional tests of attention on those with schizophrenia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)579-88
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • Adult
  • Attention
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cognition Disorders
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Recall
  • Middle Aged
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual
  • Problem Solving
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Reaction Time
  • Schizophrenia
  • Schizophrenic Psychology
  • Serial Learning

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