Comparing temporal order judgments and choice reaction time tasks as indices of exogenous spatial cuing
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Attentional disorders are common in individuals with neurological or psychiatric conditions and impact on recovery and outcome. Thus, it is critical to develop theory-based measures of attentional function to understand potential mechanisms underlying the disorder and to evaluate the effect of intervention. The present study compared two alternative methods to measure the effects of attentional cuing that could be used in populations of individuals who may not be able to make manual responses normally or may show overall slowing in responses. Spatial attention was measured with speeded and unspeeded methods using either manual or voice responses in two standard attention paradigms: the cued target discrimination reaction time (RT) paradigm and the unspeeded temporal order judgment (TOJ) task. The comparison of speeded and unspeeded tasks specifically addresses the concern about interpreting RT differences between cued and uncued trials (taken as a proxy for attention) in the context of drastically different baseline RTs. We found significant cuing effects for both tasks (speeded RT and untimed TOJ) and both response types (vocal and manual) giving clinicians and researchers alternative methods with which to measure the effects of attention in different populations who may not be able to perform the standard speeded RT task.
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