Methylphenidate (0.65 mg/kg), clonidine (200 μg) or placebo were administered to normal adult males undertaking a dichotic monitoring task in which they were required to detect nominated target words and discriminate them from phonemic distractors. Following placebo, performance was better when attention was focused than when divided. Following clonidine, subjects were poorer and slower at discriminating targets during both divided and focused attention and subjectively were withdrawn and reported difficulties with concentration. Methylphenidate had no effect on target discrimination or response time but raised the rate of response and had marked effects on spontaneous behaviour in which an increased attention capacity was generally reported. The effects on attention of the pharmacological agents employed in this study are attributed to their effects on central monoamines. The disparity noted between objective and subjective assessments of attention is discussed in terms of the voluntary allocation of effort.
- Dichotic monitoring