The TEA has three parallel versions, is ecologically plausible and acceptable to patients. It is sensitive enough also to show normal age effects in the normal population.
The test gives a broad-based measure of the most important clinical and theoretical aspects of attention: no other test of attention exists which does this.
It can be used analytically to identify different patterns of attentional breakdown.
The TEA has a wide range of applications, from patients with Alzheimer’s disease to young normal subjects.
It is the only test of attention based largely on everyday materials: the real-life scenario means that patients enjoy the test and find it relevant to the problems faced in life.
There are eight subtests of the TEA:
Map search - Subjects have to search for symbols on a coloured map. The score is the number out of 80 found in 2 minutes. This subtest is age-sensitive and usable with almost all brain-damaged patients, including those with Alzheimer’s disease. It measures selective attention and loads on the same factor as the Stroop Test and the d2 cancellation test.
Elevator counting - Subjects are asked to pretend they are in an elevator whose door-indicator is not functioning. They therefore have to establish which ‘door’ they have arrived at by counting a series of tape-presented tones. This is an established measure of sustained attention sensitive to right frontal lesions.
Elevator counting with distraction - Subjects have to count the low tones in the pretend elevator while ignoring the high tones. This was designed as a subtest of auditory selective attention.
Visual elevator - Here, subjects have to count up and down as they follow a series of visually presented ‘doors’ in the elevator. This reversal task is a measure of attentional switching, and hence of cognitive flexibility. It is self-paced and loads on the same factor as the number of categories on the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test.
Auditory elevator with reversal - The same as the visual elevator subtest except that it is presented at fixed speed on tape.
Telephone search - Subjects must look for key symbols while searching entries in a simulated classified telephone directory.
Telephone search dual task - Subject must again search in the directory while simultaneously counting strings of tones presented by a tape recorder. The combined performance on sub-tests 6 and 7 gives a measure of divided attention - a ‘dual task decrement’.
New materials - As we constantly aim to improve our materials, the CDs originally included in this test have now been changed to a USB.