The utility of a continuous performance test embedded in virtual reality in measuring ADHD-related deficits

J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2009 Feb;30(1):2-6. doi: 10.1097/DBP.0b013e3181969b22.


Objective: Continuous performance tasks (CPT) are popular in the diagnostic process of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), providing an objective measure of attention for a disorder with otherwise subjective criteria. Aims of the study were to: (1) compare the performance of children with ADHD on a CPT embedded within a virtual reality classroom (VR-CPT) to the currently used Test of Variables of Attention (TOVA) CPT, and (2) assess how the VR environment is experienced.

Methods: Thirty-seven boys, 9 to 17 years, with (n = 20) and without ADHD (n = 17) underwent 3 CPT's: VR-CPT, the same CPT without VR (No VR-CPT) and the TOVA. Immediately following CPT, subjects described their subjective experiences on the Short Feedback Questionnaire. Results were analyzed using analysis of variance with repeated measures.

Results: Children with ADHD performed poorer on all CPT's. The VR-CPT showed similar effect sizes to the TOVA. Subjective feelings of enjoyment were most positive for VR-CPT.

Conclusion: The VR-CPT is a sensitive and user-friendly assessment tool to aid diagnosis in ADHD.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Attention
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / diagnosis*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / physiopathology
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / psychology*
  • Child
  • Cognition
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests / standards*
  • Neuropsychological Tests / statistics & numerical data
  • Psychometrics
  • Psychomotor Performance*
  • Reaction Time
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Visual Perception