Bimodal attention functioning in patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder

Jeffrey Paul Baerwald, Fordham University


This study examined bimodal attention differential in patients with schizophrenia (SS, $n=51)$ and bipolar disorder (BDS, $n=44)$ using a recently developed bimodal attention task, Intermediate Visual and Auditory Continuous Performance (IVA). Several extratest neuropsychological measures of visual attention, psychomotor speed, and executive functioning, as well as clinician rated and subject rated symptom scales were also administered. Both SS and BDS demonstrated within normal limits performance on IVA scales that measure response control, e.g., response inhibition, impulse control, and maintaining effort. By contrast, attention abilities of SS and BDS were in the impaired range ($\le$2 SDs) of functioning. SS showed a significant visual over auditory attention preference, $t(48)={-}2.12,\ p<.05,$ whereas, and contrary to expectation, BDS showed a significant auditory over visual attention preference, $t(42)=2.08,\ p<.05.$ These attention differentials were accounted for by significantly impaired auditory vigilance functioning, $t(48)={-}3.25,\ p<.01,$ for SS; and, significantly faster auditory processing speed, $t(42)=3.43,\ p<.001,$ for BDS. Consistent with past research, both subject groups showed delayed visual to auditory crossmodal switching when compared to auditory to visual crossmodal switching. While both groups showed expected impairment of neuropsychological functioning, only tests of executive functioning were found to have modest correlations with modal attention functioning. Symptom severity was not found to be correlated with IVA performance. It is concluded that the IVA is a useful clinical tool in assessing bimodal attention functioning in SS and BDS. As a result of the differential directions of impairment found between the groups it is suggested that the IVA may be a useful diagnostic tool. This finding, however, requires replication. Moreover, there is a suggestion that reliance on unimodal assessment of attention may underdiagnose the severity of impairment in either population.

Subject Area

Psychotherapy|Psychobiology|Psychological tests|Neurology

Recommended Citation

Baerwald, Jeffrey Paul, "Bimodal attention functioning in patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder" (1998). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9825855.