Continuous Attention Task

Patterns consisting of 3X3 arrangements of light and dark squares are flashed onto the computer screen at intervals of 1.5-2.5 seconds. The task is to respond  whenever two consecutive shapes are the same. A total of 241 patterns are presented with 40 repetitions. The test lasts about 8 minutes. The number of correct and incorrect responses are recorded, and an error index computed.

This task assesses the ability to maintain an alert state, while presenting a rather low information processing load. It is sensitive to the effects of a number of CNS depressant drugs, though it is not in general as sensitive as more heavily-loaded tasks such as Rapid Visual information Processing. Nonetheless it is of value to include this test as a representative of many real-world activities which are under-loaded, most obviously driving.

Validation data for the task is available in the following references:

Tiplady, B. (1992)
Cameron, E.  et al., (2001)

This task has been used in many studies to assess effects of drugs. The test can be run on a Java-enabled mobile phone. 


PenScreen Home Test Descriptions