Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-cbbd94bb4-mbxjx Total loading time: 0.24 Render date: 2021-02-24T05:09:21.249Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": false, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true }

The structure of normal human attention: The Test of Everyday Attention

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 February 2009

Ian H. Robertson
MRC Applied Psychology Unit, 15 Chaucer Road, Cambridge CB2 2EF, UK
Tony Ward
MRC Applied Psychology Unit, 15 Chaucer Road, Cambridge CB2 2EF, UK
Valerie Ridgeway
MRC Applied Psychology Unit, 15 Chaucer Road, Cambridge CB2 2EF, UK
Ian Nimmo-Smith
MRC Applied Psychology Unit, 15 Chaucer Road, Cambridge CB2 2EF, UK


A range of tests of everyday attention is described, based on ecologically plausible activities such as searching maps, looking through telephone directories, and listening to lottery number broadcasts. An age-, sex- and IQ-stratified sample of 154 normal participants was given these tests, along with a number of existing tests of attention. The factor structure revealed by this data set matched well contemporary evidence for a set of functionally independent attentional circuits in the brain, and included factors for sustained attention, selective attention, attentional switching and auditory-verbal working memory. The Test of Everyday Attention (TEA), which was developed and standardized on the basis of these subtests, has three parallel forms, high test-retest reliability, and correlates significantly with existing measures of attention. Furthermore, selected subtests successfully discriminate among a number of brain-impaired groups, including closed head injury versus age-matched controls, minimal versus mild Alzheimer’s disease, and progressive supranuclear palsy patients versus age-matched controls. (JINS, 1996, 2, 525–534.)

Research Article
Copyright © The International Neuropsychological Society 1996

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below.


Allport, A. (1993). Attention and control XIV. In Meyer, D.E. & Kornblum, S. (Eds.), Attention and performance (pp. 183219). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
Baddeley, A.D., Bressi, S., Della Salla, S., Logic, R., & Spinnler, H. (1991). The decline of working memory in Alzheimer’s disease. Brain, 114, 25212542.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Bayless, J.D., Varney, N.R., & Roberts, R.J. (1989). Tinker Toy Test performance and vocational outcome in patients with closed-head injuries. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, 11, 913917.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Ben-Yishay, Y., Diller, L., Gerstman, L., & Haas, A. (1968). The relationship between impersistence, intellectual function and outcome of rehabilitation in patients with left hemiplegia. Neurology, 18, 852861.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Bench, C.J., Frith, C.., Grasby, P.M., Friston, K.J., Paulesu, E., Frackowiak, R.S.J., & Dolan, R.J. (1993). Investigations of the functional anatomy of attention using the Stroop test. Neuropsychologia, 31, 907922.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Bennett-Levy, J., Klein-Boonschate, M.A., Batchelor, J., McCarter, R., & Walton, N. (1994). Encounters with Anna Thompson: The consumer’s experience of neuropsychological assessment. The Clinical Neuropsychologist, 8, 219238.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Blanc-Garin, J. (1994). Patterns of recovery from hemiplegia following stroke. Neuropsychological Rehabilitation, 4, 359385.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Brickenkamp, R. (1962). Test d2. Zurich: Verlag für Psychologie.Google Scholar
Broks, P., Preston, G.C., Traub, M., Poppleton, P., Ward, C., & Stahl, S.M. (1988). Modelling dementia: Effects of scopolaminc on memory and attention. Neuropsychologia, 26, 685700.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Brooks, D.N. & McKinlay, W. (1987). Return to work within the first seven years of severe head injury. Brain Injury, 1, 515.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Cohen, R.M., Semple, W.E., Gross, M., Holcomb, H.J., Dowling, S., & Nordahl, T.E. (1988). Functional localization of sustained attention. Neuropsychiatry, Neuropsychology and Behavioural Neurology, 1, 320.Google Scholar
Denes, G., Semenza, C., Stoppa, E., & Lis, A. (1982). Unilateral spatial neglect and recovery from hemiplegia. A follow-up study. Brain, 105, 543552.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Drevets, W.C., Burton, H., Videen, T.O., Snyder, A.Z., Simpson, J.R., & Raichle, M.E. (1995). Blood flow changes in human somatosensory cortex during anticipated stimulation. Nature, 373, 249252.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Esmonde, T., Giles, E., Gibson, M., & Hodges, J.R. (in press). Neuropsychological performance, disease severity and psychiatric symptoms in progressive supranuclear palsy. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.Google Scholar
Foster, J.R. & Haggard, M.P. (1987). The Four Alternative Auditory Feature Test (FAAF)—Linguistic and psychometric properties of the material with normative data in noise. British Journal of Audiology, 21, 165174.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Gialanella, B. & Mattioli, F. (1992). Anosognosia and extrapersonal neglect as predictors of functional recover following right hemisphere stroke. Neuropsychological Rehabilitation, 2, 169178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Goldman-Rakic, P.S. (1988). Topography of cognition: Parallel distribution networks in primate association areas. Annual Review of Neuroscience, 11, 137156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Green, J.D.W., Hodges, J.R., & Baddeley, A.D. (1995). Autobiographical memory and executive function in early dementia of Alzheimer’s type. Neuropsychologia, 33, 16471670.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gronwall, D.M.A. & Wrightson, P. (1974). Delayed recovery of intellectual function after minor head injury. Lancet, 2, 605609.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Kinsella, G. & Ford, B. (1980). Acute recovery patterns in stroke patients. Medical Journal of Australia, 2, 663666.Google ScholarPubMed
Kolb, B. (1996). Brain plasticity and behaviour. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
Lutman, M.E., Brown, E.J., & Coles, R.R.A. (1987). Self-reported disability and handicap in the population in relation to puretone threshold, age, sex and type of hearing loss. British Journal of Audiology, 21, 4558.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
McKinlay, W.M. (1981). The short-term outcome of severe blunt head injury as reported by relatives of the injured persons. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, 44, 527533.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Milner, B. (1963). Effects of different brain lesions on card sorting. Archives of Neurology, 9, 90100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mirsky, A.F. (1989). The neuropsychology of attention: Elements of a complex behaviour. In Perecman, E. (Ed.), Integrating theory and practice in clinical neuropsychology (pp. 7591). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
Moran, J. & Desimone, R. (1985). Selective attention gates visual processing in the extrastriate cortex. Science, 229, 782784.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Najenson, T., Grosswasser, Z., Mendelson, L., & Hackett, P. (1980). Rehabilitation outcome of brain damage patients after severe head injury. International Rehabilitation Medicine, 2, 1722.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Nelson, H. (1976). A modified card sorting test sensitive to frontal lobe deficits. Cortex, 12, 313324.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Nelson, H. (1982). The National Adult Reading Test (NART). Windsor, UK: NFER.Google Scholar
Nourri, F.M. & Lincoln, N.B. (1987). The Extended Activities of Daily Living Scale for stroke patients. Clinical Rehabilitation, 1, 301305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Owen, A.M., Roberts, A.C., Hodges, J.R., Summers, B.A., Polkey, C.E., & Robbins, T.W. (1993). Contrasting mechanisms of impaired attentional set shifting in patients with frontal lobe damage or Parkinson’s disease. Brain, 116, 11591175.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Pardo, J.V., Fox, P.T., & Raichle, M.E. (1991). Localization of a human system for sustained attention by Positron Emission Tomography. Nature, 349, 6164.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Pardo, J.V., Pardo, P., Janer, K., & Raichle, M.E. (1990). The anterior cingulate cortex mediates processing selection in the Stroop attentional conflict paradigm. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, USA, 87, 256259.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Pashler, H. (1993). Task interference and elementary psychological mechanisms. In Meyer, D.E. & Kornblum, S. (Eds.), Attention and performance XIV (pp.245264).Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
Petrides, M. (1994). Frontal lobes and behavior. Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 4, 207211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Pogge, D.L., Stokes, J.M., & Harvey, P.D. (1994). Empirical evaluation of the factorial structure of attention in adolescent psychiatric patients. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, 16, 344353.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Ponsford, J. & Kinsella, G. (1992). The use of a rating scale of attentional behaviour. Neuropsychological Rehabilitation, 1, 241257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Posner, M.I. & Peterson, S.E. (1990). The attention system of the human brain. Annual Review of Neuroscience, 13, 2542.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Reitan, R.M. (1958). The validity of the Trail Making Test as an indicator of organic brain damage. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 9, 127130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Robertson, I.H. & Murre, J.M.J. (1995). Recovery and rehabilitation following acquired brain damage in adults: A neuropsychological analysis in a cohnectionisi framework. Manuscript submitted for publication.Google Scholar
Robertson, I.H., Ridgeway, V., Greenfield, E., & Parr, A. (1995). Motor recovery after stroke depends on sustained attention: A two-year follow-up study. Manuscript under review.Google Scholar
Sterzi, R., Bottini, G., Celani, M., Righetti, E., Lamassa, M., Ricci, M., & Vallar, G. (1993). Hemianopia, hemianaesthesia and hemiplegia after right and left hemisphere damage. A hemispheric difference. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, 56, 308310.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Stroop, J.R. (1935). Studies of interference in serial-verbal reactions. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 18, 643662.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Trenerry, M.R., Crosson, B., DeBoe, J., & Leber, W.R. (1989). Stroop Neuropsychological Screening Test. Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.Google Scholar
Varney, N.R. (1988). Prognostic significance of anosmia in patients with closed head trauma. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, 10, 250254.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Wade, D.T. & Collin, C. (1988). The Barthel ADL Index: A standard measure of physical disability? International Disability Studies, 10, 6467.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Wechsler, D.A. (1981). Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Revised. San Antonio, TX: The Psychological Corporation.Google Scholar
Whitehead, R. (1991). Right hemisphere processing superiority during sustained visual attention. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 3, 329335.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Wilkins, A.J., Shallice, T., & McCarthy, R. (1987). Frontal lesions and sustained attention. Neuropsychologia, 25, 359365.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Woldorff, M.G., Gallen, C.C., Hampson, S.A., Hillyard, S.R., Pantev, C., Sobel, D., & Bloom, F.E. (1993). Modulation of early sensory processing in human auditory cortex during auditory selective attention. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, USA, 90, 87228726.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Yamaguchi, S., Tsuchiya, H., & Kobayashi, S. (1994). Electroencephalographic activity associated with shifts of visual attention. Brain, 117, 553562.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Full text views

Full text views reflects PDF downloads, PDFs sent to Google Drive, Dropbox and Kindle and HTML full text views.

Total number of HTML views: 2
Total number of PDF views: 932 *
View data table for this chart

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 24th February 2021. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

The structure of normal human attention: The Test of Everyday Attention
Available formats

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

The structure of normal human attention: The Test of Everyday Attention
Available formats

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

The structure of normal human attention: The Test of Everyday Attention
Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Your details

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *