Inspired by its success in cognitive psychology, the theory of visual attention (TVA) has also been applied to the study of visual attention deficits after brain damage. TVA-based patient assessment depends on a specific combination of experimental testing and data analysis which was pioneered by John Duncan and Claus Bundesen in the late 1990s. TVA-based assessment holds many advantages compared to conventional clinical tests on visual attention. This chapter illustrates the four most important of these advantages in a review of the studies currently published using the method. First, performance is analysed into separable functional components: specificity. Second, the method can reveal deficits that are not evident in standard clinical examination: sensitivity. Third, the measurement error related to each test result can be quantified directly and in most cases shown to be minor: reliability. Fourth, the functional components measured are not specific to the tasks used, but grounded in a general theory of visual attention: validity.
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