Impaired Control of Visual Attention in Schizophrenia

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To investigate attentional impairment in schizophrenia, the authors examined the performance of 22 patients with schizophrenia and 16 healthy control subjects in 4 visual search tasks that varied in perceptual requirements and in the need for precise attentional control. The rate of search was slowed in the patients in all tasks. However, the degree of slowing was largest in tasks requiring precise attentional control and smallest in tasks that were perceptually difficult but required less attentional control. This pattern of results indicates that the primary impairment of attention in schizophrenia lies in the control of attention and not in the selection processes that operate once attention has been directed to an object.

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