Journal of Neuropsychology

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Volume 8 Issue 1 (March 2014), Pages 1-155

Attentional control in patients with temporal lobe epilepsy (pages 140-146)

Across different studies, patients with temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) demonstrate impairments on numerous measures of attentional control that are classically associated with frontal lobe functioning. One aspect of attentional control that has not been examined in TLE is the ability to execute two modality‐specific tasks concurrently. We sought to examine the status of dual‐task coordination in TLE. We further examined the cohorts' performance on a range of traditional measures of attentional control. Eighteen TLE patients and 22 healthy controls participated in the study. Dual‐task performance involved comparing the capacity to execute a tracking and a digit recall task simultaneously with the capacity to execute the tasks separately. We also administered measures of: set shifting (odd‐man‐out test), sustained attention (elevator counting), selective attention (elevator counting with distraction), and divided attention (trail making test). We found that the proportional decrement in dual‐task performance relative to single‐task performance did not vary between the groups (TLE = 92.48%; controls = 93.70%), nor was there a significant difference in sustained attention (p > .10). Patients with TLE did demonstrate marked deficits in selective attention (p < .0001), divided attention (p < .01), and set shifting (p < .01). These findings add to the knowledge about cognitive dysfunction in TLE, indicating that impairments in attentional control in TLE tend to be selective. The greatest deficits appear to be on tasks that invoke a high level of processing resources. In contrast, sustained attention is less compromised and the capacity to allocate cognitive resources appears to be normal in patients with TLE.

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