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Thomas Van Vleet, Joseph DeGutis, Lynn Robertson; Cognitive rehabilitation of patients with hemispatial neglect: Effects of vigilance training on components of attentional processing. Journal of Vision 2007;7(9):701. doi: 10.1167/7.9.701.
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Currently there exists no generalizable, long-lasting treatment for the debilitating spatial and non-spatial deficits exhibited in patients with chronic neglect. While several experimental interventions have been developed (e.g., optokinetic stimulation, self-cueing, sustained attention training), the effects of these interventions on components of attentional processing is not well understood. In the current study we developed a novel non-spatial vigilance training intervention and assessed improvements on psychophysical measures of spatial search, object-based attention, sustained attention, and selective attention. The vigilance intervention consisted of training patients to detect a target scene in a continuous stream of distracter scenes presented at fixation. Patients were required to continually make responses to all but the target scene during 3 12-minute blocks. Patients demonstrated improved discriminability (d') and decreased reaction time over the course of 10-training sessions (2 weeks). Post-training assessment revealed significant improvement in several attentional domains (e.g., spatial search, object-based attention, sustained attention, selective attention). Notably, vigilance training promoted balanced search efficiency between contra and ispilesional space. While effects on spatial processing faded over the course of follow-up testing (1–2 weeks), benefits in non-spatial domains of attention (e.g., selective attention, vigilance) were longer-lasting. These results suggest that training non-spatial mechanisms of attention may provide beneficial short-term improvements across a number of attentional processing domains while longer-lasting benefits may be specific to the training domain.
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