Intactness of the functions of attention is an important prerequisite for effective behaviour in everyday life. When we are inattentive and lacking in concentration, important information escapes our notice and we find ourselves subsequently unable to recall pertinent details. Practical actions become difficult to perform, and we commit errors. In this respect, deficits of attention have far-reaching consequences for almost every aspect and every activity of everyday life, be it at school, at work, in traffic, or in carrying out other, diverse daily tasks.
Seen from a neuropsychological standpoint, these attentional functions are especially important, because almost every kind of brain damage, brain pathology, or brain illness is accompanied by different attentional impairments that can result in a broad range of limitations in daily life. Investigations in the past few years, especially those based on brain-imaging techniques and diverse paradigms, have shown clearly that "attention" should be understood as a specific kind of processing modus and in no case as a singular function. Indeed, "attention" comprises of a large number of in part highly specific functions that control our perception and our behaviour, as well as our thought processes.
On the basis of such an approach a collection of methods is given, which will enable it to carry out an appropriately differentiated diagnosis of attention deficits.
The development of these tests was based primarily on the needs of neuropsychological diagnostics, which make special demands on the adequate test procedures due to the sometimes high specificity of the deficits as well as the mostly given multiple impairments of the patients. This is reflected particularly in the choice of methods with low complexity by which on the one hand sub-functions are examined and on the other hand the impairments of test performance by sensory and/or motor deficits, memory impairment, speech or other deficiencies are excluded as far as possible.
The principle of development follows the view of Gronwall (1987), stated: "Because results from complex tasks have done little to add to our understanding of the effect of head injury on attention, it seems time to change direction, to examine simple processes and simple responses. "
This demand is taken into account within these procedures, choosing simple reaction paradigms, in which one has to react selectively to well discriminable, non-verbal stimuli by a simple keypress. The performance criteria are the reaction time and any mistakes.