Effects of practice of serial tests of attention in healthy subjects

J Clin Exp Neuropsychol. 1994 Jun;16(3):436-47. doi: 10.1080/01688639408402654.


The effects of practice on the serial performance of auditory and visual attention tasks were investigated in 10 healthy volunteers tested at 2 to 4 weekly intervals over eight test sessions using a battery of psychometric tests. Subjects as a group showed an ability to significantly (p = .05) improve their performances over time on all tests except for the Simple Reaction Time and Symbol Digit Modalities Test, the latter demonstrating a trend towards improvement (p = .07). Improvement when it occurred was almost uniformly linear and on tests such as the Pegboard and Stroop, was still discernable at the eighth session. On tests such as Paced Visual Serial Addition Task, floor effects were noted after five sessions and no further improvement was possible. In general, younger subjects tended to make fewer errors, perform quicker and improve for longer periods than their older counterparts. The results indicate that on tests of attention, healthy subjects have the ability to significantly improve performance with practice and this may extend over as many as eight discrete test sessions. The implications for neuropsychological research are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Recall
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests / statistics & numerical data*
  • Practice, Psychological*
  • Psychometrics
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Reaction Time
  • Reference Values
  • Serial Learning*