This study analyzed attentional performance in patients with schizophrenia during a continuous performance task requiring a high response rate.
The Conners’ Continuous Performance Test-II (CPT-II) was administered to 64 patients with schizophrenia and 64 healthy comparison subjects. A cross-sectional design was used in order to allow analysis of the means between patients and healthy subjects. Differences in performance were assessed for significance using ANCOVA. Percentiles were also analyzed in order to determine whether a participant showed normal or pathological performance. Pearson's correlation was used to detect possible relationships between attentional performance and psychopathology.
Of the 12 CPT-II measures, response style and slowing of reaction time (RT) between targets increased to similar extents between patients and healthy comparison subjects. Patients performed significantly less well than non-patient group on all other measures. Nevertheless, patient's performance on four of these measures remained within the normal range, and patient's performance on the remaining measures qualified as pathological only in the case of variability in hit RT. No significant correlations between attention performance and symptoms were found.
These results suggest that although patients may show lower attentional functioning than non-patients on tasks requiring a high response rate, their attentional performance remains within the normal range on most dimensions.