Improvement in auditory selective attention performance was examined in acute schizophrenic inpatients (n = 13) both off and on medication using the digit span distraction task. Subjects were tested at drug-free baseline and weekly for three weeks during treatment with haloperidol. Improvements in distractability preceded and predicted clinical improvements. A control group of stable schizophrenic outpatients (n = 12) medicated at all testing intervals were examined during the same time period. No significant clinical or attentional changes were found in the control group over the four testing intervals. These results suggest that specific types of attentional functions are intrinsically related to the biological processes affected by neuroleptic treatment and lend preliminary support to the contention that schizophrenic symptoms are mediated by attentional impairment.
- Selective attention