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Sustained Attention Deficit Along the Psychosis Proneness Continuum: A Study on the Sustained Attention to Response Task (SART)

Chan, Raymond C. K. PhD* †; Wang, Ya PhD* †; Cheung, Eric F. C. MBBS, MRCPsych (UK), FHKCPsych; Cui, Jifang MSc§; Deng, Yongyu MSc; Yuan, Yanbo MD; Ma, Zheng MD; Yu, Xin MD; Li, Zhanjiang MD; Gong, Qiyong MD**

Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology: September 2009 - Volume 22 - Issue 3 - p 180-185
doi: 10.1097/WNN.0b013e3181b7ef84
Original Studies

Background Sustained attention deficits have been associated with schizophrenia. However, these findings were limited to patients with schizophrenia and cannot be generalized to a wider nonclinical sample with schizotypal personality features.

Objectives This study aimed to examine the sensitivity of a theory-driven test, the Sustained Attention Response to Task (SART), in individuals with schizotypal personality features. We also investigated the relationships between different parameters of SART and different dimensions of schizotypal features.

Methods One hundred and ninety-nine participants (74 individuals with schizophrenia, 69 individuals with psychometrically determined schizotypal features, and 56 healthy controls) took part in this study. Participants scoring in the top 10% of the Schizotypal Personality Questionnaire (SPQ) score were identified as having schizotypal features, and those scoring in the bottom 10% were recruited as healthy controls. All participants were administered the SART in an experimental cubicle.

Results The findings indicated that: (1) significant differences were found in SART commission error and sensitivity between the 3 experimental groups, with patients with schizophrenia and individuals with schizotypal features performing worse than healthy controls; (2) there was a trend toward statistical significance for SART efficiency score and d′, with controls performing better than patients with schizophrenia and individuals with schizotypal features; (3) some associations between some SART indices and schizotypal traits were found; and (4) there was no significant relationship between SART indices and clinical symptoms in patients with schizophrenia in this study.

Conclusions: This investigation demonstrated the potential value of a relatively new sustained attention paradigm for research in schizophrenia spectrum disorders.

*Neuropsychology and Applied Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory

Key Laboratory of Mental Health, Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences

Castle Peak Hospital, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region

§School of Psychology, Beijing Normal University

Students' Affairs Division, Zhongkai University of Agriculture and Technology, Guangzhou

Institute of Mental Health, Peking University

Beijing Anding Hospital, Capital Medical University, Beijing

**Department of Radiology, Huaxi MR Research Centre, West China Hospital/West China School of Medicine, Sichuan University, Chengdu, China

Supported partially by the Project-Oriented Hundred-Talent Program (O7CX031003), the Knowledge Innovation Project of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (KSCX2-YW-R-131), and the National Basic Research Program (973 Program No. 2007CB512302) to Raymond Chan, and the National Basic Research Program (973 Program No. 2007CB512305) to Qi-yong Gong.

Reprints: Raymond Chan, PhD, Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 4A Datun Road, Beijing 100101, China (e-mail:;

Received for publication August 18, 2008; accepted July 4, 2009

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.