Irene Patniyot

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Attention is a complex construct involving extensive interactions with working memory and executive control systems to process and extract meaning out of large amounts of multi-sensory information. Disruption of attention is a characteristic symptom in schizophrenia, and further studies on selective attention are crucial for understanding the disease. The current study looks at how subjects with schizophrenia selectively attend to either a visual or auditory metronome in the presence of asynchronous cross-modal distractors of 3 different frequencies (0.5, 1, and 2 Hz). Results showed that across all tasks of selective attention, patients with schizophrenia demonstrated increased variability in mean group reaction times compared to healthy volunteers. In addition, across all subjects (patients and controls), response times were most variable during the attend visual condition: a task in which subjects tapped in synchrony to a visual reversing checkerboard while ignoring an auditory metronome. Results also indicated that significantly more errors occurred in the highest (2 Hz) frequency condition. These findings are consistent with previous studies on healthy subjects showing that auditory distractors are more difficult to ignore than visual distractors during synchronized tapping. They are also consistent with studies revealing deficient selective attention in patients with schizophrenia. They do not, however, reveal any significant differences in patient vs. control performances during the auditory and visual conditions.