Insufficient attention to tasks can result in slips of action as automatic, unintended action sequences are triggered inappropriately. Such slips arise in part from deficits in sustained attention, which are particularly likely to happen following frontal lobe and white matter damage in traumatic brain injury (TBI). We present a reliable laboratory paradigm that elicits such slips of action and demonstrates high correlations between the severity of brain damage and relative-reported everyday attention failures in a group of 34 TBI patients. We also demonstrate significant correlations between self-and informant-reported everyday attentional failures and performance on this paradigm in a group of 75 normal controls. The paradigm (the Sustained Attention to Response Task—SART) involves the withholding of key presses to rare (one in nine) targets. Performance on the SART correlates significantly with performance on tests of sustained attention, but not other types of attention, supporting the view that this is indeed a measure of sustained attention. We also show that errors (false presses) on the SART can be predicted by a significant shortening of reaction times in the immediately preceding responses, supporting the view that these errors are a result of `drift' of controlled processing into automatic responding consequent on impaired sustained attention to task. We also report a highly significant correlation of −0.58 between SART performance and Glasgow Coma Scale Scores in the TBI group.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mindfulness training is increasingly being introduced in schools, yet studies examining its impact on the developing brain are scarce. A neurodevelopmental perspective on mindfulness has been advocated as a powerful tool to enhance our understanding of underlying neurocognitive changes with implications for developmental well-being research and the implementation of mindfulness in education. To stimulate more research in developmental cognitive neuroscience of mindfulness, this paper outlines possible indexes of mindfulness-based change in adolescence with a focus on event-related brain potentials (ERP) markers. We provide methodological recommendations for future studies, and offer examples of research paradigms. We discuss how mindfulness practice could impact on the development of prefrontal brain structures, and enhance attention control and emotion regulation skills in adolescents, impacting in turn on their self-regulation and coping skills. We highlight advantages of ERP methodology in neurodevelopmental research of mindfulness. It is proposed that research using established experimental tasks targeting ERP components such as the Contingent Negative Variability, N200, Error-Related Negativity and error Positivity, P300, and the Late Positive Potential could elucidate developmentally salient shifts in neural plasticity of the adolescent brain induced by mindfulness practice.
"In terms of behavioral measures, we compared hit rates and commission error rates, as well as reaction times to non-targets preceding errors between the two groups. The hit rate (i.e., accurately responding to non-targets) indicates overall attentional performance in the SART, whereas the commission error rate (i.e., failure to withhold response to the infrequent targets) is considered to reflect a lapse in sustained attention (Robertson et al., 1997). We also examined overall reaction times and variability in reaction times. "
"The SART (Robertson et al. 1997) is a simple target detection task in which participants have to respond to frequent non-targets and withhold their response to rare targets. Successful performance in this task requires sustained attention , yet it makes minimal demands on other cognitive processes. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Although migraine is traditionally categorized as a primary headache disorder, the condition is also associated with abnormalities in visual attentional function in between headache events. Namely, relative to controls, migraineurs show both a heightened sensitivity to nominally unattended visual events, as well as decreased habituation responses at sensory and post-sensory (cognitive) levels. Here we used event-related potentials (ERPs) to examine whether cortical hypersensitivities in migraineurs extend to mind wandering, or periods of time wherein we transiently attenuate the processing of external stimulus inputs as our thoughts drift away from the on-going task at hand. Participants performed a sustained attention to response task while they were occasionally queried as to their attentional state-either "on-task" or "mind wandering." We then analyzed the ERP responses to task-relevant stimuli as a function of whether they immediately preceded an on-task versus mind wandering report. We found that despite the commonly reported heightened visual sensitivities in our migraine group, they nevertheless manifest a reduced cognitive response during periods of mind wandering relative to on-task attentional states, as measured via amplitude changes in the P3 ERP component. This suggests that our capacity to attenuate the processing of external stimulus inputs during mind wandering is not necessarily impaired by the class of cortical hypersensitivities characteristic of the interictal migraine brain.
Experimental Brain Research 02/2015; 233(5). DOI:10.1007/s00221-015-4224-x · 2.04 Impact Factor
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