Is filtering difficulty the basis of attentional deficits in schizophrenia?

Susan M. Ravizza, Lynn C. Robertson, Cameron S Carter, Thomas E Nordahl, Ruth E. Salo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The distractibility that schizophrenia patients display may be the result of a deficiency in filtering out irrelevant information. The aim of the current study was to assess whether patients with schizophrenia exhibit greater difficulty when task-irrelevant features change compared to healthy participants. Thirteen medicated outpatients with a diagnosis of schizophrenia and thirteen age- and parental education-matched controls performed a target selection task in which the task-relevant letter or the task-irrelevant features of color, and/or location repeated or switched. Participants were required to respond by pressing the appropriate key associated with the target letter. These patients with schizophrenia were slower when the task-relevant target letter switched than when it repeated. In contrast, schizophrenia patients performed similarly to controls when task-irrelevant information changed. Thus, we found no evidence that patients with schizophrenia were impaired in inhibiting irrelevant perceptual features. In contrast, changes in task-relevant features were problematic for patients relative to control participants. These results suggest that medicated outpatients who are mild to moderately symptomatic do not exhibit global impairments of feature processing. Instead, impairments are restricted to situations when task-relevant features vary. The current findings also suggest that when a course of action is not implied by an irrelevant feature, outpatients' behavior is not modulated by extraneous visual information any more than in healthy controls.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-209
Number of pages9
JournalPsychiatry Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 30 2007


  • Attentional inhibition
  • Cognitive control
  • Feature processing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Psychology(all)


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