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Attention performance in young adults with learning disabilities

Sterr, AM (2004) Attention performance in young adults with learning disabilities Learning and Individual Differences, 14 (2). pp. 125-133.

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Attention acts as the mind's "gatekeeper" by regulating and prioritizing the stimuli processed by the central nervous system. It is essential for cognitive performance, memory, and behavior, and we know that even slight deficiencies in attention compromise learning. Basic neuroscience research further indicates that attention consists of (fairly) independent subcomponents, which rely on distinct neural structures, and serve different functions in everyday behavior. Disturbances of brain function, such as those suggested to be related to learning disabilities, may lead to different patterns of attention performance (i.e., some attention systems may work sufficiently well, while others are substantially impaired). The present experiment describes a pilot study that aimed to characterize the extent and range of individual variations in attention performance in persons classified as learning disabled. Specifically, we tested the hypothesis that attention is not uniformly impaired in these individuals. Rather, we expected some subcomponents to be more severely impaired than others, and substantial heterogeneity in the individual "deficit patterns. " The Test of Everyday Attention (TEA) was used to assess visual selective attention, attentional switching, sustained attention, and auditory-verbal working memory in students with nondyslexic learning disability (LD group) and matched controls. The group comparison revealed a significantly weaker performance in the LD group. Analysis of subtest-specific scaled scores further indicated great individual differences in the performance pattern. Thus, in each student with LD, we found normal performance in at least two subtests, while other subcomponents where severely impaired. The study supports the idea of differential attention deficits in the learning disabled, and suggests individual patterns of "strengths and weaknesses." Taking the relationship of attention and learning into account, this finding is important with respect to the design of individual learning programs and the teaching techniques chosen for the acquisition of skills and knowledge. (C) 2003 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Authors :
Sterr, AM
Date : 2004
Uncontrolled Keywords : Test of Everyday Attention; visual selective attention; attentional switching; sustained attention; auditory-verbal working memory; nondyslexic learning disability spatial attention; brain; vision; touch
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 28 Mar 2017 15:50
Last Modified : 31 Oct 2017 14:38

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