Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychology



First Advisor

Dominic Valentino


A comparison of continuous performance tasks (CPTs) using cognitive versus sensory stimuli was undertaken to compare vigilance performance on analogous verbal and non-verbal tasks in normal, young adults. Eighty-nine introductory psychology students, screened for head injury, neurological deficits, and medication and substance use performed two versions of an auditory, computerized CPT. In the verbal task, stimuli were letters of the alphabet, whereas in the non-verbal task, they were tones of the major diatonic scale. During each 15 min task, 1200 stimuli were presented at an onset -to-onset time of0 .75 sec. A total of 100 targets was presented in semi-random sequence at an average rate of one every 9 sec. Targets were constituted by stimuli that were identical to the immediately preceding stimulus. Participants were required to respond to targets with the press of a hand-held button.

Results indicated significant differences between the two versions of the task on accuracy, adjusted accuracy, and false alarm rate. In addition, correlations were found both within and between the tasks for accuracy, adjusted accuracy, and reaction time. Implications of these results for models of attention, theories of laterality and attentional mechanisms, and clinical use are discussed.



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