Cognitive deficits are a substantial burden in clinical depression. The present study considered dysfunction in the right-hemispheric attention network in depression, examining alertness and visuospatial attention.
Three computerized visuospatial attention tests and an alertness test were administered to 16 depressive patients and 16 matched healthy controls.
Although no significant group effect was observed, alertness predicted reduced visuospatial performance in the left hemifield. Furthermore, sad mood showed a trend towards predicting left visual field omissions.
Decreased alertness may lead to lower left hemifield visuospatial attention; this mechanism may be responsible for a spatial bias to the right side in depression, even though treatment of depression and anxiety may reduce this cognitive deficit.