The Top 11 Attention Disorders (and Associated Symptoms)

Attention is one of the most basic cognitive processes, since it allows mental resources to be focused on specific focuses in order to carry out other psychological operations, such as the perception of stimuli from the environment. Different types of alterations, both organically based and lacking, can cause alterations in this function.

In this article we will describe The characteristics of the 11 main attention disorders Most of them fall into the category of hypoprosexias (alterations due to attention deficits), although it is also important to mention hyperprosexias, aprosexias, paraprosexias and pseudoaprosexias.

The main attention disorders

Psychopathological disorders of attention are generally classified based on how they affect this cognitive function: specifically, we talk about aprosexia, hyperprosexia or hypoprosexia, among other terms, depending on whether they involve the increase, decrease or absence of attentional resources. In any case, these concepts are somewhat confusing.

Hypoprosexias, which are characterized by a reduction in the ability to attend to stimuli, are the most common attention disorders. Within this category we find phenomena such as distractibility, emotional attention lability, inhibition of attention, neglect syndrome, fatigue of attention, apathy or perplexity.

1. Aprosexia

Aprosexia is defined as the total absence of attention ; In this sense we could say that it constitutes an extreme form of hypoprosexia. The phenomenon of stupor, in which the person does not respond to almost any type of stimulation and which is associated with psychosis, epilepsy, substance abuse and brain injuries, is the best example of aprosexia.

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2. Pseudoaprosexia

In the literature on psychopathology of attention, this term is used to refer to cases that apparently correspond to the signs of aprosexia, but which nevertheless do not imply true alterations in attention. So, pseudoaprosexias are framed in hysterical and simulation contexts fundamentally.

3. Hyperprosexia

We speak of hyperprosexia when, in the context of a temporary alteration of consciousness (caused by manic episodes or drug consumption, mainly), there is an intensification and/or excessive focusing of attention, frequently accompanied by hypervigilance and hyperlucidity. . Like hypoprosexia, destabilizes attention and worsens performance

4. Paraprosexy

This concept is used to describe two different types of alterations. Karl Jaspers spoke of paraprosexy as the anomalous direction of attention which occurs in disorders such as hypochondria, in which excessive concern about certain physical signs can increase them. Other authors consider that paraprosexy is similar to attentional instability.

5. Distractibility

In psychopathological contexts such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, manic episodes or twilight states typical of epilepsy, a marked instability of the attentional focus occurs. In this sense, the distractibility It is a type of hypoprosexia as are the rest of the alterations that we will mention.

6. Emotional attention lability

The context “emotional attentional lability” is used very specifically to define alterations in the stability and performance of attention that are derived from states of intense anxiety for example those that could occur 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 direct attention towards a specific focus. Inhibition of attention may have an organic origin (in which case it usually causes disorientation and memory problems) or psychologically, as occurs in melancholic depression and chronic psychoses.

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8. Attentional fatigue

Post-traumatic stress disorder, severe depression, brain tumors and infections or neurodegenerative disorders, especially dementia, frequently cause alterations due to deficits in attentional functions. People with attention fatigue They tend to feel tired in general and have memory problems.

9. Apathetic inattention

We find manifestations of attentional apathy in very different contexts: in conditions of intense fatigue and sleep, due to malnutrition, due to abusive consumption of certain psychoactive substances, in diffuse neurodegenerative disorders or in asthenic-apathetic states. In some cases it is simply attributed to the personality of the subject

10. Perplexity

In the area of ​​attention psychopathology, the term “perplexity” defines a type of qualitative alteration of this function that implies a inability to give meaning to perceived stimuli, as well as their own behaviors. Although it is a highly questioned concept, it could be applied to phenomena such as twilight states.

11. Negligence syndrome

Left spatial hemineglect syndrome (or simply “neglect syndrome”) is a very particular brain disorder that appears as a consequence of focal lesions in the right hemisphere of the brain. The most representative symptoms include spatial neglect inattention and akinesia for one half of the body or visual field.