The multiple dimensions of sustained attention

Cortex. Jul-Aug 2008;44(7):794-805. doi: 10.1016/j.cortex.2007.04.002. Epub 2007 Dec 23.


Sustained counting (or temporal numerosity judgements) has been one of the key means of investigating anterior attentional processes. Forty-three patients with localised lesions to the frontal lobes were assessed on two tests of the ability to count the number (8-22) of stimuli presented at either a slow (roughly one per 3 sec) or fast (roughly three per sec) rate. Patients with lesions to the Superior Medial (SM) region (particularly Brodmann areas 24, 32, and 9) were impaired both in the Slow condition and also in the Fast condition, where they underestimated the number of stimuli. Patients with Right Lateral (RL) lesions (8, 45, and 46) also had difficulties in the Fast condition, especially when the number of targets was greater than 15. The results are considered from the perspectives of alternative positions on anterior attentional processes developed by Posner and Petersen (1990) and by Stuss et al. (1995). The most plausible interpretation is in terms of energising processes which involve the SM frontal cortex and monitoring processes which involve the RL frontal cortex.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Brain Damage, Chronic / classification
  • Brain Damage, Chronic / physiopathology
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology*
  • Frontal Lobe / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Judgment / physiology*
  • Male
  • Mathematics*
  • Middle Aged
  • Orientation / physiology*
  • Reference Values
  • Time Factors