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Psychol Med. 1996 Sep;26(5):1009-20.

Impaired attention in depressive states: a non-specific deficit?

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  • 1Biological Psychiatry Laboratory, McLean Hospital, Belmont, Massachusetts, USA.


Although cognitive research on attention has advanced significantly in recent years, these advances have produced few specific hypotheses regarding the attentional impairment seen in depression, and few experiments designed to test them. We review the limited neuropsychological literature on impaired attention in depressive states, with emphasis on areas where the findings of modern cognitive research might be applied in the future to design more sophisticated tests of attentional impairment. At present, it is not possible to determine whether the attentional deficits seen in depression are specific to this disorder, or whether they represent a final common pathway of impaired cognition seen in many different mental and organic deficit states, such as schizophrenia and dementias.

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