Pharmacopsychiatry 2003; 36 - 99
DOI: 10.1055/s-2003-825350

A new diagnostic tool for measuring attentional components in patients with depression

C Haberger 1, K Finke 2, P Bublak 2, W Schneider 3
  • 1Max-Planck-Institut für Psychiatrie, München
  • 2Katholische Universität Eichstätt
  • 3Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München

The neuropsychological assessment of attention disorders is increasingly faced with the problem of extracting information about specific attentional components from tasks in which several components are confounded. For this reason, a new tool – based on the Theory of Visual Attention (TVA, Bundesen, 1990, 1998) – was used to assess four separate components of attention: Processing speed, working memory storage capacity, spatial distribution of attention, and top-down control. In contrast to traditional tests of attention the TVA-based approach permits the assessment of attention without a motor response so that reduced performance in one or more attentional components can be attributed to a deficit in the component per se rather than to a reduction in motor speed. In this way, this approach also provides a powerful diagnostic instrument when it comes to disentangling impaired and intact attentional components, and when evaluating any effects of medication in the course of treatment.