Attention is one of the most basic cognitive processes, as it allows mental resources to be focused on specific points in order to perform other psychological operations, such as the perception of environmental stimuli. Different types of alterations, both of organic origin and absent, can cause alterations in this function.
In this article we will describe the characteristics of the 11 main attention disorders. Most of them fall under the category of hypoprosexia (alterations due to attention deficits), although it is also important to mention hyperprosexia, aprosexia, paraprosexia and pseudoaprosexia.
The main attention disorders
Psychopathological attention disorders are generally classified according to the way in which they affect this cognitive function: in particular, we speak of aprosexia, hyperprosexia or hypoprosexia, among other terms, Depending on whether they involve an increase, a decrease or an absence of attentional resources. Either way, these concepts are a bit confusing.
Hypoprosexia, characterized by a reduced ability to respond to stimuli, is the most common attention disorder. In this category we find phenomena such as distractibility, attentive emotional lability, inhibition of attention, neglect syndrome, attention fatigue, apathy or bewilderment.
Aprosexia is defined as the total lack of attention; in this sense one could say that it constitutes an extreme form of hypoprosexia. The stupor phenomenon, in which the person responds to almost no type of stimulation and is associated with psychosis, epilepsy, toxic use and brain damage, is the best example of aprosexia.
In the attention psychopathology literature, this term is used to refer to cases which apparently correspond to signs of aprosexia, but which nevertheless do not involve true alterations in attention. like that, pseudoaprosexies are framed in hysterical and simulation contexts, Basically.
Hyperprosexia is when, as part of a transient alteration of consciousness (mainly caused by manic episodes or drug use), there is an intensification and / or excessive concentration of attention, often accompanied hypervigilance and hyperlucidity. Like hypoprosexia, destabilizes attention and deteriorates performance.
This concept is used to describe two different types of alterations. Karl Jaspers was talking about paraprosexia as an abnormal direction of attention which occurs in disorders such as hypochondria, in which excessive concern for certain physical signs may increase them. Other authors consider paraprosexia as attentional instability.
In psychopathological settings such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, manic episodes, or twilight states of epilepsy, there is marked instability of attentional focus. In this sense, the distraction it’s a type of hypoprosexia, As are the other changes we will mention.
6. Attentive emotional lability
The context “attentional emotional lability” is used very specifically to define the alterations in the stability and performance of attention that they derive from states of intense anxietyFor example, those that might arise in disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder.
7. Inattention or inhibition of attention
In these cases, the term refers to the reduction in the ability to call attention to a particular goal. Inhibition of attention can have an organic origin (In this case usually with disorientation and memory problems) or psychological, as in melancholic depression and chronic psychosis.
8. Attention fatigue
Post-traumatic stress disorder, severe depression, brain tumors and infections, or neurodegenerative disorders, especially dementia, often cause alterations in attention deficit function. People with attentional fatigue they tend to feel tired in general and have memory problems.
9. Listless inattention
We find manifestations of attentional apathy in very different contexts: in conditions of fatigue and intense sleep, due to malnutrition, by excessive consumption of certain psychoactive substances, in diffuse neurodegenerative disorders or in asthenic-apathetic states. . In some cases, it is simply attributed to the subject’s personality.
In the field of psychopathology of the mind, the term “perplexity” defines a type of qualitative alteration of this function which implies a inability to make sense of perceived stimuli, As well as their own behaviors. Although this is a very debatable concept, it could be applied to phenomena such as twilight states.
11. Neglect syndrome
Left heminegligence syndrome (or simply “neglect syndrome”) is a very specific brain disorder that occurs as a result of focal lesions in the right hemisphere of the brain. The most representative symptoms include spatial neglect, Inattention and kinesis of half of the body or of the visual field.
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