Selective attention impairment in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Chiara Volpato, Maria Angeles Prats Sedano, Stefano Silvoni, Nicoletta Segato, Marianna Cavinato, Antonio Merico, Francesco Piccione, Arianna Palmieri, Niels Birbaumer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective of this study was to evaluate attentional control mechanisms in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) using an auditory event-related potentials (ERPs) paradigm. Fifteen mild to moderate ALS patients and 15 healthy controls were administered a brief neuropsychological test battery and an ERPs paradigm assessing selective attention. Four types of auditory stimuli were presented in random order: short standard (200 Hz, 200 ms), long standard (200 Hz, 500 ms), short deviant (1000 Hz, 200 ms) and long deviant (1000 Hz, 500 ms). Participants had to respond to the long deviant stimuli only. During the task the electroencephalogram (EEG) was recorded. The N200, P300 and re-orienting negativity (RON) ERP components were analysed. Compared to controls ALS patients showed reduced amplitudes and delayed latencies of N200, P300 and RON. These results could be attributable to both an alteration in change detection resulting in a reduction of the allocation and re-orientation of attentional resources or a general slowing or reduction of neural processing efficiency in the same system. The ERPs results support the hypothesis that ALS involves extramotor cognitive functions including auditory attentional processing at all processing stages, early (200 ms) and late (300–600 ms). These data prove the usefulness and sensitivity of the auditory ERPs in detection of cognitive functions in ALS patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalAmyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Frontotemporal Degeneration
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Feb 17 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology


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