Effects of stimulants on the continuous performance test (CPT): implications for CPT use and interpretation

J Neuropsychiatry Clin Neurosci. Summer 2001;13(3):326-35. doi: 10.1176/jnp.13.3.326.


An increasing number of treatment plans for individuals with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), as well as other disorders, include stimulant medication. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of stimulant medications on attention and impulsivity as measured by continuous performance tests (CPTs). The effect of other stimulants (e.g., caffeine, nicotine) on CPT performance was examined as well. Although various versions of the CPT were used in the studies reviewed, the research supports improvements in CPT performance with stimulant treatment. Implications for the use of CPTs in evaluating the effects of medications on attention are discussed. Also presented are implications for control of common substances like nicotine or caffeine when CPT is used and interpreted as a measure of attention.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / drug therapy*
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / pharmacology*
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / therapeutic use*
  • Cognition / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Methylphenidate / pharmacology*
  • Methylphenidate / therapeutic use*
  • Neuropsychological Tests


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Methylphenidate