Training to improve attentional dysfunction in children and adolescents with Asperger Syndrome through direct cognitive stimulation.

  • María-Ángeles Bravo-Alvarez Universidad de Zaragoza
  • María Frontera-Sancho Universidad de Zaragoza
Keywords: Attentional Dysfunction, Asperger Syndrome, Specific Cognitive Therapy, Attention Game Program


This research analyzes the generalization ability of learning in children and adolescents with Asperger Syndrome to attentional cognitive aspects with different demands on exercised through the use of a direct cognitive stimulation program. The sample consisted of 15 cases with Asperger between 7 and 15 years (M = 12, SD = 2.7) with attentional difficulties, measured by psychometric orientation instruments, to which an attention training program was implemented to two hours per week for six consecutive months. The results of the pretest-posttest analysis showed statistically significant differences in all attentional subsystems. Selective attention differences are moderate in variables related to processing speed, in sustained attention the reaction time significantly decreased (moderate magnitude of the difference) and increased the successes reducing errors (both with a large magnitude difference) . In alternating attention, a greater number of successes were observed and in split attention higher levels of total responses (both moderate magnitude) were obtained. It is concluded that the attentional performance in the cases analyzed improvement after applying a cognitive training program specifically being able to generalize learning psychometric measures.


American Psychiatric Association (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Man-ual of Mental Disorders (DSM V). Arlington: American Psychiatric Publishing. doi: 10.5555/appi.books.9780890425596.x00pre

Asperger, H. (1944). Die «Autistischen Psychopathen» im Kindesalter. Archiv für Psychiatrie und Nervenkrankheiten, 117, 76-136. doi:10.1007/BF01837709

Bernabeu-Verdú, J., López-Luengo, B., Fournier-del Castillo, C., Ca-ñete-Nieto, A., Suárez-Rodríguez, J., y Castel-Sánchez, V. (2004). Aplicación del Attention Process Training dentro de un proyecto de intervención en procesos atencionales en niños con cáncer. Revista de Neurología, 38, 473-482. Recuperado de

Belinchón, M., Hernández, J. M., y Sotillo, M. (2008). Personas con Síndrome de Asperger: Funcionamiento, detección y necesidades [OX Reader version]. Recuperado de

Belinchón, M., Hernández, J. M., y Sotillo, M. (2009). Síndrome de As-perger: una guía para los profesionales de la educación [OX Reader version]. Recuperado de

Blanca, M. J., Zalabardo, C., Rando, B., López-Montiel, D. y Luna, R. (2005). AGL, Atención Global-Local. Madrid: TEA Ediciones.

Bravo-Álvarez, M., Frontera-Sancho, M. y Herrero-Nivela, M. L. (2012). Perfil Atencional en niños con Síndrome de Asperger. Revista de Psicopatología y Salud Mental del niño y del adolescente, 20, 29-38. Recupe-rado de

Bravo-Álvarez, M. (2014). Efectividad del programa "Attention Game" en el tratamiento de disfunciones atencionales en trastorno de espectro autista (sín-drome de Asperger) (tesis doctoral no publicada). Universidad de Za-ragoza: Zaragoza.

Butler, R. W. y Copeland, D. R. (2002). Attentional processes and their remediation in children treated for cancer: a literature review and development of a therapeutic approach. J Int Soc Neuropsychol, 8, 115-24. doi:10.1017/S1355617701020112

Cappa, S. F., Benke, T., Clarke, S., Rossi, B., Stemmer, B. y Van Heug-ten, C. M. (2005). EFNS guidelines on cognitive rehabilitation: re-port of an EFNS task force. Eur J Neurol, 12, 665-80. Recuperado de

Casey, B., Gordon, C., Mannheim, G. y Rumsey, J. (1993). Dysfunc-tional attention in autistic savants. Journal of Clinical and Experi-mental Neuropsychology, 15(6), 933-946. doi: 10.1080/01688639308402609

Cicerone, K. D., Dahlberg, C., Kalmar, K., Langenbahn, D. M., Malec, J. F., Bergquist, T. F. …Morse, P. A. (2000). Evidence-based cogni-tive rehabilitation: recommendations for clinical practice. Arch Phys Med Rehabil, 81, 1596-615. doi:

Cliff, N. (1993). Dominance statistics: ordinal analyses to answer or-dinal questions. Psychological Bulletin, 114(3), 494-509. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.114.3.494

Courchesne, E., Townsend, J., Akshoomoff, N., Saitoh, O., Yeung-Courchesne, R., Lincoln, A. J., … Lau, L. (1994). Impairment in shifting attention in autistic and cerebellar patients. Behavioral Neu-roscience, 108(5), 848-865. doi: 10.1037//0735-7044.108.5.848

Fernández, A. y Fernández, I. M. (2009). Críticas y alternativas a la signifi-cación estadística en el contraste de hipótesis. Madrid: La Muralla.

Frontera-Sancho, M. (2010). Funcionamiento cognitivo en síndrome de Asperger. En Federación Asperger España Síndrome de As-perger (Eds), Aspectos discapacitantes y Valoración [OX Reader ver-sion]. Recuperado de

Golden, C. J. (2001). Test Stroop de colores y palabras. Madrid: TEA Edi-ciones.

Goldstein, G., Johnson, C. y Minshew, N. (2001). Attentional processes in autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 31(4), 433-440. doi: 10.1023/A:1010620820786

Gray, J. M., Robertson, I., Pentland, B. y Anderson, S. (1992). Micro-computer-based attentional retraining after brain damage: a ran-domized group controlled trial. Neuropsychol Rehabil, 2, 97-115. doi: 10.1080/09602019208401399

Hendriks, C. M. y Van der Broek-Sandmann, T. M. (1996). Amsterdamse training van aandacht en geheugen vorr kinderen (ATAG-K). Amsterdam: Harcourt Test Publisher.

Jarocci, G., Burack, J., Shore, D., Mottron, L. y Enns, J. (2006). Global-local visual processing in high functioning children with Autism: Structural vs. implicit task biases. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 36(1), 117-129. doi: 10.1007/s10803-005-0045-2

Landry, R. y Bryson, S. E. (2004). Impaired disengagement of attention in young children with autism. Journal'of'Child Psychology and Psychia-try, 45, 1115-1122. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2004.00304.x

López-Frutos, J. M., Sotillo, M., Tripicchio, P. y Campos, R. (2011). Funciones atencionales de orientación espacial, alerta y control ejecutivo en personas con trastornos del espectro autista. Revista de Psicopatología y Psicología Clínica, 16(2), 101-112. Recuperado de

López-Luengo B., Fernández S., Losada M. L. y García M. L. (2002). Programa de rehabilitación de las capacidades atencionales en pacientes con demencia tipo Alzheimer y enfermedades cere-brovasculares. Mapfre Medicina, 13, 186-96. Recuperado de

Malec, J., Rao, N., Jones, R. y Stubbs, K. (1984). Video game practice effects on sustained attention in patients with craniocerebral trauma. Cognit Rehabil, 2, 18-23. Recuperado de

Martín-Borreguero, P. (2005). Perfil lingüístico del individuo con sín-drome de Asperger: implicaciones para la investigación y la prác-tica clínica. Revista de Neurología, 41 (Supl 1), 115-122. Recuperado de

Mirsky, A. F. (1989). The neuropsychology of attention: elements of a complex behavior. En E. Perecman (Ed), Integrating theory and prac-tice in clinical neuropsychology (pp. 75-91). Hillsdale, N.J.: Erlbaum.

Morales, P. (2012). El tamaño del efecto (effect size): análisis complementarios al contraste de medias. Recuperado de

Organización Mundial de la Salud (1992). Clasificación de Trastornos Men-tales y de Conducta: Descripciones Clínicas y Guías de Diagnóstico (CIE-10). Ginebra: OMS.

Ozonoff, S., South, M. y Miller, J. (2000). DSM-IV-defined Asperger syndrome: Cognitive, behavioral and early history differentiation from high-functioning autism. Autism, 4(1), 29-46. doi: 10.1177/1362361300041003

Park, N. W. y Barbuto, E. (2005). Treating attention impairments. En P. W. Halligan y D. T. Wade (Eds.), Effectiveness of rehabilitation for cogni-tive deficits (pp. 81-90). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Park, N. W. y Ingles, J. L. (2001). Effectiveness of attention rehabilita-tion after an acquired brain injury: a meta-analysis. Neuropsychology, 15, 199-210. Recuperado de

Pascualvaca, D., Fantie, B., Papageorgiu, M. y Mirsky, A. (1998). Atten-tional capacities in children with autism: Is there a general deficit in shifting focus? Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 28, 467-478. doi: 10.1023/A:1026091809650

Plaisted, K., Swettenham, J. y Rees, L. (1999). Children with autism show local precedence in a divided attention task and global precedence in a selective attention task. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 40, 733-742. Recuperado de doi: 10.1111/1469-7610.00489

Ponsford, J. y Kinsella, G. (1988). Evaluation of a remedial pro-gramme for attentional deficits following closed-head injury. J Clin Exp Neuropsychol, 10, 693-708. doi: 10.1080/01688638808402808

Ponsford, J., Sloan, W. y Snow, P. (1995). Traumatic brain injury: rehabilita-tion for everyday adapting living. Hove, UK: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Powell, G.E. (1981). Brain Function Therapy. Hants: Gower-Aldershot.

Reynolds, C.R. (2002). Comprehensive Trail Making Test: Examiner´s manual. Austin, Texas: PRO-ED.

Rinehart, N., Bradshaw, J., Moss, S., Brereton, A. y Tonge, B. (2006). Pseudo-random number generation in children with high-functioning autism and Asperger's disorder. Autism, 10(1), 70-85. doi: 10.1177/1362361306062011

Robertson, I. (1999). Theory-driven neuropsycological rehabilitation: the role of attention and competition in recovery of function af-ter brain damage. En D. Gopher y A. Koriat (Eds), Attention and Performance XVII: Cognitive Regulation of Performance: Interaction of Theory and Application (pp. 677-696). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Rogers, S. J. y Ozonoff, S. (2005). What do we know about sensory dysfunction in autism? A critical review of the empirical evi-dence. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 46(12), 1255-1268. doi: 10.1016/j.trd.2012.05.006

Schatz, A., Weimer, A. y Trauner, D. (2002). Brief Report: Attention differences in Asperger Syndrome. Journal of Autism and Developmen-tal Disorders, 32(4), 333-336. doi: 10.1023/A:1016339104165

Servera, M. y Llabrés, J. (2004). CSAT: Tarea de atención sostenida en la in-fancia. Madrid: TEA Ediciones.

Sturm, W., Wilmes, K., Orgass, B. y Hartje, W. (1997). Do specific at-tention deficits need specific training? Neuropsychol Rehabil, 7, 81-103. Recuperado de

Van Zomeren, H. A. y Fasotti, L. (1992). Impairments of attention and approaches to rehabilitation. En O. Von Cramon, E. Póppel, y N. Von Steinbúchel (Eds), Brain damage and rehabilitation: a neuropsycho-logical approach (pp. 23-51). Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag.

Wood, R.L. (1986). Rehabilitation of patients with disorders of atten-tion. J Head Trauma Rehabil, 3, 43-53. doi: 10.1097/00001199-198609000-00008

How to Cite
Bravo-Alvarez, M.- Ángeles, & Frontera-Sancho, M. (2016). Training to improve attentional dysfunction in children and adolescents with Asperger Syndrome through direct cognitive stimulation. Anales De Psicología / Annals of Psychology, 32(2), 366-373.