The covert orienting of visual attention following severe traumatic brain injury

J. L. Mathias, A. J. Bate, John Robertson Crawford

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32 Citations (Scopus)


Attentional problems have frequently been identified following traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) using both clinical assessments and self-report measures. Unfortunately, most measures of attention do not enable us to determine the underlying basis of these attentional deficits. One exception is Posner's Covert Orienting of Attention Task (COAT), which is designed to identify some of the fundamental mental operations underlying attention. This study sought to determine whether the COAT task could identify discrete attentional deficits following TBI beyond those caused by reduced speed of information processing. Thirty five patients who had sustained a severe TBI were compared to 35 age-matched controls. Results revealed that, although the reaction times of the patients with TBI were significantly slower than the controls, there were no differences between the two groups in terms of their ability to disengage, move, and engage their attention. The introduction of a secondary (language) task produced no significant difference between the two groups on the COAT task. However, there was a significant difference between the two groups on the language-based task, suggesting a deficit in auditory-verbal attention under dual task conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)386-398
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2001



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