Extra-dimensional versus intra-dimensional set shifting performance following frontal lobe excisions, temporal lobe excisions or amygdalo-hippocampectomy in man

Neuropsychologia. 1991;29(10):993-1006. doi: 10.1016/0028-3932(91)90063-e.


Attentional "set" shifting was assessed in a group of 20 neurosurgical patients with localized excisions of the frontal lobes, a group of 20 patients with unilateral temporal lobe lesions and a group of 11 patients who had undergone amygdalo-hippocampus removal. These three patient groups were compared with groups of both young (age-matched) and elderly normal control volunteers on a computerized test of visual discrimination learning involving both an intra- and an extra-dimensional shift. The frontal lobe group were selectively impaired in their ability to shift response set to a previously irrelevant dimension but not to shift attention to new exemplars of a previously relevant dimension. A similar pattern was observed in the elderly group of normal control volunteers. By comparison, both the temporal lobe patients and the amygdalo-hippocampectomy patients were unimpaired in their ability to perform either shift, although both groups had significantly prolonged selection latencies at the extra-dimensional shift stage of the task. These data are compared to previous findings from patients with idiopathic Parkinson's disease and are discussed in terms of a specific attentional set shifting deficit following frontal lobe damage.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology
  • Amygdala / physiology*
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Discrimination, Psychological / physiology
  • Female
  • Form Perception / physiology
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology*
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Intelligence Tests
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology*
  • Word Association Tests