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.