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Supervisory attentional control following carbon monoxide poisoning



This study tested the hypothesis that carbon monoxide poisoning would produce a deficit of attentional control, the supervisory attention system, as indexed by attention switching and attentional scheduling, and that routine attentional orienting would be unaffected. Seventy-three cases of carbon monoxide poisoning were assessed at 3 days and 1 month post poisoning on tasks of attentional orienting, and tasks of the supervisory attention system. The results were compared to a group of 53 healthy community participants. A deficit of the supervisory attentional system was documented on a task of attention switching in survivors of both deliberate and accidental CO poisoning, leaving attentional scheduling intact. There was no deficit of attentional orienting in the current study. Alteration of consciousness was found to predict subsequent supervisory attention system impairment in correlation analyses, and the deficit was persistent for a 1 month follow-up period. (JINS, 2004, 10, 843–850.)


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Reprint requests to: Dr. Ben Ong, School of Psychological Science, Faculty of Science and Technology, La Trobe University, Bundoora, Victoria, Australia, 3086. E-mail:


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