Global interference and spatial uncertainty in the Sustained Attention to Response Task (SART)

William S Helton, Lena Weil, Annette Middlemiss, Andrew Sawers
Consciousness and Cognition 2010, 19 (1): 77-85
The Sustained Attention to Response Task (SART) is a Go-No-Go signal detection task developed to measure lapses of sustained conscious attention. In this study, we examined the impact global interference and spatial uncertainty has on SART performance. Ten participants performed either a SART (high-Go) or a traditionally formatted (low-Go) version of a global-local stimuli detection task with spatially certain and uncertain signals. Reaction time in the SART was insensitive to global interference and spatial uncertainty, whereas reaction time in the low-Go task was sensitive. Spatial uncertainty increased errors of omission in the SART, which was not expected if the SART measures mindlessness. There was a high correlation between participants' errors of commission rate and their reaction time in the SART. The results, overall, support the view that the SART is a better measure of response strategy than lapses in sustained attention or mindlessness.

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