Skip to main content


  • Poster presentation
  • Open Access

A new dichotic listening paradigm in schizophrenia: relationship to focused attentional functioning

  • 1,
  • 2,
  • 2, 3,
  • 3,
  • 3 and
  • 3
Annals of General Psychiatry20087 (Suppl 1) :S153

  • Published:


  • Schizophrenia
  • Focus Attention
  • Forced Condition
  • Listening Test
  • Response Conflict


Classical dichotic listening is a method for studying auditory laterality and consequently basic sensory processing. Nevertheless, by adding instructions about which ear to attend (forced condition), it is possible to also test controlled information processing. Specifically, the forced-right condition would reflect the capacity to focus attention, while the forced-left condition can be explained additionally as a result of inhibitory control over a stimulus-driven effect, since the latter paradigm also involves response conflict. The purpose of the present study was to examine the relationship between the two forced conditions and a test of sustained and focused attention.

Materials and methods

Thirty patients with schizophrenia (SCH) were assessed twice: on their hospitalisation and right before leaving hospital. Attention was measured by a dichotic listening task of simple words (DLT), under two conditions: forced right-ear (FRC) and forced left-ear (FLC) condition (wherein subjects were instructed to focus attention only on the right- or left-ear stimulus, respectively), yielding two measures: number of words repeated from the target ear minus number of words repeated from the opposite ear, respectively. Sustained-focused attention was measured by the Penn Continuous Performance Test (PCPT). In this computerized task, the subject is asked to respond to a set of vertical and horizontal lines whenever they form a digit. An efficiency measure (i.e., the ratio of number of correct responses per unit time for each participant, calculated by dividing the number of true positives by the average reaction time on correct responses) was used as an index of performance.


Performance on the PCPT correlated significantly with performance on both conditions of the DLT, and at both testing times [1st time: PCPT - FRC: r=.525, p<.003, PCPT - FLC: r=.564, p<.001; 2nd time: PCPT - FRC: r=.379, p<.03, PCPT - FLC: r=.562, p<.001].


In conclusion our results suggest that both forced condition paradigms of a dichotic listening test tap into aspects of focused attention.

Authors’ Affiliations

1st Department of Psychiatry, Medical School, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece
Neuropsychology Group, School of Psychology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece
2nd Department of Psychiatry, Medical School, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece


© Bozikas et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2008

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd.