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Continuous performance task in ADHD: Is reaction time variability a key measure?

Authors Levy F, Pipingas A, Harris EV, Farrow M, Silberstein RB

Received 5 December 2017

Accepted for publication 1 February 2018

Published 15 March 2018 Volume 2018:14 Pages 781—786


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Wai Kwong Tang

Florence Levy,1 Andrew Pipingas,2 Elizabeth V Harris,2 Maree Farrow,3 Richard B Silberstein2

School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales and Head, Child and Family East, Prince of Wales Hospital, Sydney, NSW, Australia; 2Centre for Human Psychopharmacology, Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Victoria, Australia; 3Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Objective: To compare the use of the Continuous Performance Task (CPT) reaction time variability (intraindividual variability or standard deviation of reaction time), as a measure of vigilance in attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and stimulant medication response, utilizing a simple CPT X-task vs an A-X-task.
Method: Comparative analyses of two separate X-task vs A-X-task data sets, and subgroup analyses of performance on and off medication were conducted.
Results: The CPT X-task reaction time variability had a direct relationship to ADHD clinician severity ratings, unlike the CPT A-X-task. Variability in X-task performance was reduced by medication compared with the children’s unmedicated performance, but this effect did not reach significance. When the coefficient of variation was applied, severity measures and medication response were significant for the X-task, but not for the A-X-task.
Conclusion: The CPT-X-task is a useful clinical screening test for ADHD and medication response. In particular, reaction time variability is related to default mode interference. The A-X-task is less useful in this regard.

ADHD, continuous performance task, reaction time variability, stimulant medication

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