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Brain Cogn. 1993 Nov;23(2):166-80.

Spatial and selective attention in the cerebral hemispheres in depression, mania, and schizophrenia.

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  • 1Department of Psychological Medicine, King's College Hospital, Denmark Hill, London, United Kingdom.


Two tachistoscopic tests examining distinct aspects of attention were administered to normal subjects and patients with depression, mania, and schizophrenia. The first examined spatial attentional bias using happy-sad chimeric faces, known to elicit a perceptual bias to the left side of space in normal right-handers provided the right cerebral hemisphere is intact. The second used a lateralized version of the Stroop task, a traditional test of selective attention. Normals showed the expected leftward perceptual bias but showed equivalent susceptibility to the Stroop effect in both visual fields. As previously demonstrated with chimeric faces viewed in free vision, depression and mania were associated with weak and strong biases respectively with schizophrenics showing no bias to either side of space. The relationship between perceptual bias, as assessed by reaction time and absolute performance and the Stroop effect, showed differences according to diagnosis. This may be interpreted as evidence for the dissociability of attentional processes as well as lateralized differences in the pattern of cerebral activation in affective disorders and schizophrenia. The independence of performance variables on these tests in the schizophrenic group points to severe neuropsychological dysfunction.

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