A methodological note on evaluating performance in a sustained-attention-to-response task.
We evaluated the influence of speed-accuracy trade-offs on performance in the sustained attention to response task (SART), a task often used to evaluate the effectiveness of techniques designed to improve sustained attention. In the present study, we experimentally manipulated response delay in a variation of the SART and found that commission errors, which are commonly used as an index of lapses in sustained attention, were a systematic function of manipulated differences in response delay. Delaying responses to roughly 800 ms after stimulus onset reduced commission errors substantially. We suggest the possibility that any technique that affects response speed will indirectly alter error rates independently of improvements in sustained attention. Investigators therefore need to carefully explore, report, and correct for changes in response speed that accompany improvements in performance or, alternatively, to employ tasks that control for response speed.
Seli, P; Jonker, TR; Solman, GJF; Cheyne, JA; Smilek, D
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