Evaluating vigilance deficits in ADHD: a meta-analysis of CPT performance

J Abnorm Psychol. 2012 May;121(2):360-71. doi: 10.1037/a0027205. Epub 2012 Mar 19.


We meta-analytically review 47 between-groups studies of continuous performance test (CPT) performance in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Using a random effects model and correcting for both sampling error and measurement unreliability, we found large effect sizes (δ) for overall performance, but only small to moderate δ for performance over time in the handful of studies that reported that data. Smaller δs for performance over time are likely attributable, in part, to the extensive use of stimuli for which targets and distractors are quite easily differentiated. Artifacts accounted for a considerable proportion of variance among observed δs. Effect sizes reported in previous reviews were significantly attenuated because of the presence of uncorrected artifacts and highlight the necessity of accounting for artifactual variance in future work to determine the amount of true neurocognitive heterogeneity within ADHD. Signal detection theory and diffusion modeling analyses indicated that the ADHD-related deficits were because of decreased perceptual sensitivity (d') and slower drift rates (v). Results are interpreted the context of several recent models of ADHD.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / psychology*
  • Attention*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Perception
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Reaction Time
  • Sample Size