Sustained attention deficit along the psychosis proneness continuum: a study on the Sustained Attention to Response Task (SART)

Raymond C K Chan, Ya Wang, Eric F C Cheung, Jifang Cui, Yongyu Deng, Yanbo Yuan, Zheng Ma, Xin Yu, Zhanjiang Li, Qiyong Gong
Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology: Official Journal of the Society for Behavioral and Cognitive Neurology 2009, 22 (3): 180-5

BACKGROUND: Sustained attention deficits have been associated with schizophrenia. However, these findings were limited to patients with schizophrenia and cannot be generalized to a wider nonclinical sample with schizotypal personality features.

OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to examine the sensitivity of a theory-driven test, the Sustained Attention Response to Task (SART), in individuals with schizotypal personality features. We also investigated the relationships between different parameters of SART and different dimensions of schizotypal features.

METHODS: One hundred and ninety-nine participants (74 individuals with schizophrenia, 69 individuals with psychometrically determined schizotypal features, and 56 healthy controls) took part in this study. Participants scoring in the top 10% of the Schizotypal Personality Questionnaire (SPQ) score were identified as having schizotypal features, and those scoring in the bottom 10% were recruited as healthy controls. All participants were administered the SART in an experimental cubicle.

RESULTS: The findings indicated that: (1) significant differences were found in SART commission error and sensitivity between the 3 experimental groups, with patients with schizophrenia and individuals with schizotypal features performing worse than healthy controls; (2) there was a trend toward statistical significance for SART efficiency score and d', with controls performing better than patients with schizophrenia and individuals with schizotypal features; (3) some associations between some SART indices and schizotypal traits were found; and (4) there was no significant relationship between SART indices and clinical symptoms in patients with schizophrenia in this study.

CONCLUSIONS: : This investigation demonstrated the potential value of a relatively new sustained attention paradigm for research in schizophrenia spectrum disorders.

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