Slow Cognitive Time: causes and related disorders

Slow Cognitive Time: causes and related disorders

Although previously it was believed that slow cognitive time (SCT) was a subtype of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) with predominance of inattention symptoms, it is now known that it is a distinct syndrome that also manifests itself in other psychopathological disorders.

In this article we will describe the clinical characteristics, the causes of slow cognitive time and its relationship with other disorders . Research on this set of symptoms is in the initial stage, but has been progressing at a significant speed for some years now.

What is Slow Cognitive Time?

The concept “slow cognitive time” refers to a cognitive-emotional style that is mainly characterized by the continued presence of a state of confusion, lost gaze, daydreaming, lack of motivation and slowness or laziness. If these manifestations are understood as symptoms, we can conceptualize the TCL as a syndrome.

In addition to these five cardinal signs, it is common for the following to be detected in people with slow cognitive time:

  • Low precision and speed in information processing.
  • Frequent occurrence of feelings of fatigue, or chronic tiredness.
  • Relatively low energy and activity levels
  • Daytime sleepiness.
  • Difficulties in maintaining alertness or vigilance in unstimulating situations
  • Withdrawal, less interest and participation in activities.
  • Difficulties in transforming thoughts into words.
  • Loss of train of thought, blockages due to forgetfulness of speech.

It was initially believed that slow cognitive time was a subtype of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in which symptoms of inattention predominated. Advances in scientific research have shown that it is actually a separate clinical category, although there is no agreement as to whether it is a disorder or not.

In this sense, the clinical characteristics of slow cognitive time appear in the context of various psychological and psychiatric disorders, among which major depression, generalized anxiety, intellectual functional diversity or various disorders related to learning, in addition to ADHD, stand out.

Causes of this syndrome

The causes of slow cognitive time are not known in depth at this time. It is believed, however, that the nerve networks associated with attention in the back of the brain , in the parietal lobes, are more associated with this syndrome than the frontal lobes, as is the case with ADHD.

On the other hand, it has been found that exposure to high amounts of alcohol during fetal development favors the appearance of these neurocognitive signs.

Slow cognitive time seems to have a biological basis similar to that of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder . However, the heritability of ADHD is greater in the subtype in which the symptoms of hyperactivity predominate.

In contrast, the cases of ADHD that are related to the presence of slow cognitive time are those that have a lower weight of genetic inheritance. It has been hypothesized that this style of thinking and emotion arises as a result of changes in environmental influences caused by the very presence of symptoms of inattention.

Relationship to other disorders

There is currently an unresolved debate about the clinical nature of slow cognitive time. Its correlation with other psychological disorders may shed some light in this regard.

1. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Research indicates that between 30 and 50% of children diagnosed with ADHD show the characteristic syndrome of slow cognitive time. The clinical similarities between this pattern and ADHD with predominant inattention are significant, but both constructs differ in some characteristics, both neurological and cognitive.

For many experts the increased interest in slow cognitive time is an opportunity to question the very diagnosis of ADHD, which encompasses very diverse manifestations and became restrictive in the area of inattention in the transition from DSM-III to DSM-IV, but gains explanatory capacity if the TCL is included among the criteria.

2. Major depression

A clear association has been found between slow cognitive time and the presence of internalizing symptoms , particularly those characteristic of mood and anxiety disorders.

Although this relationship is of modest intensity, it is somewhat more potent in the case of depression than anxiety. In addition, some authors argue that slow cognitive time is more associated with internalization than with ADHD.

3. Anxiety disorders

As regards the category of anxiety disorders, comorbidities have been found between slow cognitive time and disturbances such as social phobia, obsessive thoughts and especially generalised anxiety disorder, which is closely connected to depression from a biological point of view.

The signs of inattention mediate the relationship between anxiety disorders and slow cognitive time: the difficulties in attention typical of the TCL are increased by the effects of anxiety, which itself leads to alterations in this psychological function.

4. Conduct disorders

Children and adolescents with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder are more likely to develop behavioral problems, such as dissociative disorder, oppositional defiance, or substance abuse. However, in cases with slow cognitive time this relationship is reduced; therefore, the TCL acts as a protective factor . Difficulties in maintaining alertness or vigilance in unstimulating situations

  • Withdrawal, less interest and participation in activities.
  • Difficulties in transforming thoughts into words.
  • Loss of train of thought, blockages due to forgetfulness of speech.
  • It was initially believed that slow cognitive time was a subtype of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in which symptoms of inattention predominated. Advances in scientific research have shown that it is actually a separate clinical category, although there is no agreement as to whether it is a disorder or not.

    In this sense, the clinical characteristics of slow cognitive time appear in the context of various psychological and psychiatric disorders, among which major depression, generalized anxiety, intellectual functional diversity or various disorders related to learning, in addition to ADHD, stand out.

    Causes of this syndrome

    The causes of slow cognitive time are not known in depth at this time.
    It is believed, however, that the nerve networks associated with attention in the back of the brain , in the parietal lobes, are more associated with this syndrome than the frontal lobes, as is the case with ADHD.

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