There are hypotheses that traumatic brain injury (TBI) and schizophrenia might exhibit similar patterns of cognitive disorders in attention, executive function and memory. Yet, empirical studies comparing directly the two populations are extremely rare. The aim of this exploratory study was to compare performance of patients with TBI and schizophrenia in a task of selective attention. A group of TBI patients (n= 18), a group of patients with schizophrenia (n=21), and a control group with no history of neurologic or psychiatric illness (n= 31) participated in this study. A paced paper-and-pencil cancellation task was completed by each participant, allowing for discrimination between intact and impaired attention subcomponents. Compared to the controls, both patient groups had (a) slower processing speed, (b) reduced target processing efficiency, (c) instant attentional overload, and (d) difficulties in discriminating targets from distractors. However, these deficits were of different degrees between the groups. Furthermore, (e) a marked selective impairment of processing of distractors was observed in patients with schizophrenia only, as well as (f) a failure to regulate attentional resources over time. Finally, (g) none of the groups showed any shifts in response strategies. These results suggest that there are large similarities in disturbances in selective attention between these two pathologies. Yet, whenever similar, these disturbances are of different degrees. Furthermore, there are some qualitative differences between the two pathologies. (C) 2014 Societe francaise de psychologie. Published by Elsevier Masson SAS. All rights reserved.