de Moura MC, Do Valle LE, Resende MB, Pinto KO. Visuospatial attention disturbance in Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Developmental medicine and child neurology 2010;52:e10-5.
AIM: The cognitive deficits present in the Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) are not yet well characterized. Attention, considered to be the brain mechanism responsible for the selection of sensory stimuli, could be disturbed in DMD, contributing, at least partially, to the observed global cognitive deficit. The aim of this study was to investigate attentional function in individuals with DMD.
METHOD: Twenty-five males (mean age 12y; SD 2y 2mo) with DMD and 25 healthy males (mean age 12y; SD 2y) were tested in a visuospatial task (Posner computerized test). They were instructed to respond as quickly as possible to a lateralized visual target stimulus with the ipsilateral hand. Their attention was automatically orientated by a peripheral prime stimulus or, alternatively, voluntarily orientated by a central spatially informative cue.
RESULTS: The main result obtained was that the attentional effect (sum of the benefit and the cost of attention) did not differ between the two groups in the case of automatic attention (p=0.846) but was much larger for individuals with DMD than for comparison individuals in the case of voluntary attention (p<0.001).
INTERPRETATION: The large voluntary attentional effect exhibited by the participants with DMD seems similar to that of younger children, suggesting that the disease is associated with delayed maturation of voluntary attention mechanisms.