Objective: The goal of the present study was to examine distributed attentional functions in long-term but currently abstinent methamphetamine (MA) abusers using a task that measures attentional alertness, orienting, and conflict resolution. Methods: Thirty currently abstinent MA abusers (1 month-5 years) and 22 healthy non-substance using adults were administered a multimodal version of the Attentional Network Task (ANT-I). In this task subjects identified the direction of a centrally presented arrow using a key press. Analyses examined the interaction between alerting tones, location cueing and congruency between the target arrows and flanking distractor stimuli. Results: All participants were faster when an auditory tone preceded the trial onset (p < 0.001), on trials in which a valid cue preceded the location of the target arrow (p < 0.001), and on congruent trials (i.e., when all display arrows faced in the same direction) (p < 0.001). Of primary interest was the finding that MA abusers were more influenced by the conflict between the peripheral arrows and the central target arrow (p = 0.009). There were also correlations between length of drug sobriety and executive function as well as between drug-induced psychiatric symptoms and alertness. Conclusions: These results suggest that chronic MA abusers display cognitive deficits that may reflect a specific vulnerability to distraction on a task of executive function. These findings are consistent with other studies that have reported deficits in anterior attentional systems and top-down cognitive control.
- Attentional network
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Cognitive Neuroscience