CNS Spectrums

Original Research

Attentional functioning in patients with posttraumatic stress disorder: a preliminary study

Michael David Hornera1 c1, Jacobo E. Mintzera1, Travis H. Turnera1, Keith R. Edmistona2 and Olga Brawman-Mintzera1

a1 Ralph H. Johnson Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Charleston, South Carolina, USA; Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina, USA

a2 College of Charleston, Charleston, South Carolina, USA

Objective To compare patients with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to patients without psychiatric or cognitive disorders on neuropsychological measures of attention.

Methods The sample included 19 patients with PTSD and 22 participants with no cognitive or psychiatric diagnosis. All had been referred for clinical neuropsychological evaluation at a VA Medical Center. None were diagnosed with dementia, delirium, or current substance dependence except nicotine or caffeine, and none had a history of stroke or of traumatic brain injury with loss of consciousness. Patients were excluded if they failed to exert adequate effort on testing.

Results PTSD patients performed significantly more poorly than patients without psychiatric diagnoses on Digit Span.

Conclusion PTSD patients were impaired relative to participants without psychiatric diagnoses on a measure of focused attention. Several factors, including the small sample size, suggest that the results should be considered preliminary.

(Received September 21 2012)

(Accepted November 20 2012)

(Online publication January 08 2013)


  • PTSD;
  • neuropsychology;
  • attention;
  • cognition


c1 Address for correspondence: Michael David Horner, PhD, Mental Health Service (116), Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center, 109 Bee St., Charleston, SC 29401, USA. (Email


  This study was supported in part by the Department of Veterans Affairs.