Attention Disorders And Their Causes

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Attention Disorders And Their Causes
Attention Disorders And Their Causes

Video: Attention Disorders And Their Causes

Video: Attention Disorders And Their Causes
Video: Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD/ADD) - causes, symptoms & pathology 2023, September

Attention Disorder: What is it?

Attention - sounds easy? The model behind it and the definition, however, are more than one understands by the casual word “concentration”. The classic definition of attention describes it as a kind of “spotlight”.

Important aspects are highlighted in the foreground by the brain in a situation, those that do not appear important take a back seat to perception and focus. From this point of view, attention has a filtering function for the human brain.


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  • What is attention?
  • Attention is essential for everyday activities
  • What are the causes of attention disorders?

What is attention?

To be attentive, it takes more than “concentration”. Attention functions are not stand-alone services; they are involved in a wide range of processes:

  • Perception,
  • Memory,
  • Plan and act,
  • Speech production and reception (perception),
  • Orientation in space and
  • problem-solving skills.

Modern theories on the phenomenon of attention differentiate between processing processes that run automatically or in a controlled manner. If one turns attentively to an activity, it requires a certain level of activation. So you have to work a little or even very hard. During this process, the important must be distinguished from the unimportant.

Attention functions in detail

The attention functions include:

  • Activation of attention: general alertness and the ability to increase attention to a stimulus for a short time.
  • Sustained attention: the ability to maintain attention over a longer period of time, even under very monotonous conditions.
  • Selective (focused) attention: Ability to focus and analyze something in particular - also next to possibly distracting factors.
  • Visual-spatial selective attention (change of focus of attention): In the case of orientation reactions, there is a general increase in the activation tone and an orientation towards the source of the stimulus (e.g. through eye movements).
  • Divided or distributed attention: this is necessary when completing several tasks.

Attention is essential for everyday activities

In order to cope with everyday life, you need a certain amount of attention. And especially where one does not carry out "automatic" routine actions. Almost every intellectual or practical activity requires attention.

Impairments of attention functions (e.g. after injuries to the brain) therefore usually affect all areas of life. Rehabilitative measures (including from the field of neuropsychology) can be counteracted here. Attention and memory damage are among the most common consequences of brain damage of various causes. But brain damage is not the basis for every attention problem.

What are the causes of attention disorders?

Disturbances in the attention function (e.g. concentration disorders, drowsiness, increased need for sleep, easy fatigue, slowing down, lack of drive) are among the most common functional disorders after brain damage (e.g. head and brain trauma). The severity of the brain injury is not directly related to possible attention disorders. In addition, these are not always immediately recognizable from "outside", i.e. by other people. For the affected person, however, they represent a great burden. In order to compensate for the consequences of brain damage, those affected often get into an overload function. Many are not aware of the impairment and in many cases it goes away again after minor brain injuries. In addition to attention deficits, other problems such as memory,Perception or speech disorders occur.

Attention disorders can occur in almost all neurological diseases of the central nervous system. Depending on whether one or more regions in the brain are affected, attention disorders appear more specifically or in general. Attention disorders in adulthood are mainly caused by:

  • Diseases of the blood vessels of the brain or the cerebral blood flow (cerebrovascular diseases e.g. stroke),
  • Traumatic brain injury (including "whiplash"),
  • Epilepsy,
  • neurodegenerative diseases (e.g. dementia),
  • Multiple sclerosis,
  • mental illness (e.g. depression, schizophrenia, ADHD).

“Pure” lack of concentration can occur every now and then without it being pathological, for example under stress or after a very long day at work. Sometimes the reason for this is also due to external conditions that make it difficult to concentrate, e.g. heat or noise.

For more information on diagnosis and therapy, see Attention Disorders: Diagnosis and Therapy.