Distributed attentional deficits in chronic methamphetamine abusers: Evidence from the Attentional Network Task (ANT)

Ruth Salo, Shai Gabay, Catherine Fassbender, Avishai Henik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)446-452
Number of pages7
JournalBrain and Cognition
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • ANT
  • Attention
  • Attentional network
  • Conflict
  • Methamphetamine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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