Background: The notion that ADHD constitutes a heterogeneous disorder is well accepted. However, this study contributes with new important knowledge by examining independent effects of a large range of neuropsychological deficits. In addition, the study investigated whether deficits in emotional functioning constitute a dissociable component of ADHD. Method: The study included children with ADHD (n = 102; 7–13 years) and a control sample individually matched with regard to age and gender. The administered tasks were designed to tap into three different neuropsychological domains: executive functions (i.e., working memory, inhibition, and shifting), delay aversion, and reaction time variability. Parent ratings of emotion regulation and a test of emotion recognition were also included. Results: Children with ADHD differed significantly from controls on all measures, except for delay aversion and recognition of disgust. No main effects of gender or interaction effects of gender and group were found. More importantly, executive functioning, reaction time variability, and emotional functioning all contributed independently to distinguishing between children with ADHD and controls. Conclusions: The current study supports the view of ADHD as a heterogeneous disorder related to multiple neuropsychological deficits. In addition, emotional functioning appears to be an area of importance for ADHD that needs to be incorporated into future theoretical models.
Background Minimal hepatic encephalopathy (MHE) is clinically undetectable and the diagnosis requires psychometric tests. However, a lack of clarity exists as to whether the tests are in fact able to detect changes in cognition. Aim To examine if the continuous reaction time test (CRT) can detect changes in cognition with anti-HE intervention in patients with cirrhosis and without clinically manifest hepatic encephalopathy (HE). Methods Firstly, we conducted a reproducibility analysis and secondly measured change in CRT induced by anti-HE treatment in a randomized controlled pilot study: We stratified 44 patients with liver cirrhosis and without clinically manifest HE according to a normal (n = 22) or abnormal (n = 22) CRT. Each stratum was then block randomized to receive multimodal anti-HE intervention (lactulose+branched-chain amino acids+rifaximin) or triple placebos for 3 months in a double-blinded fashion. The CRT is a simple PC-based test and the test result, the CRT index (normal threshold > 1.9), describes the patient's stability of alertness during the 10-minute test. Our study outcome was the change in CRT index in each group at study exit. The portosystemic encephalopathy (PSE) test, a paper-and-pencil test battery (normal threshold above -5), was used as a comparator test according to international guidelines. Results The patients with an abnormal CRT index who were randomized to receive the active intervention normalized or improved their CRT index (mean change 0.92 +/- 0.29, p = 0.01). Additionally, their PSE improved (change 3.85 +/- 1.83, p = 0.03). There was no such effect in any of the other study groups. Conclusion In this cohort of patients with liver cirrhosis and no manifest HE, the CRT identified a group in whom cognition improved with intensive anti-HE intervention. This finding infers that the CRT can detect a response to treatment and might help in selecting patients for treatment.
There are indications that simple reaction time might have slowed in Western populations, based on both cohort- and multi-study comparisons. A possible limitation of the latter method in particular is measurement error stemming from methods variance, which results from the fact that instruments and experimental conditions change over time and between studies. We therefore set out to measure the simple auditory reaction time (SRT) of 7,081 individuals (2,997 males and 4,084 females) born in Sweden 1959-1985 (subjects were aged between 27 and 54 years at time of measurement). Depending on age cut-offs and adjustment for aging related slowing of SRT, the data indicate that SRT has increased by between 3 and 16 ms in the 27 birth years covered in the present sample. This slowing is unlikely to be explained by attrition, which was evaluated by comparing the general intelligence × birth-year interactions and standard deviations for both male participants and dropouts, utilizing military conscript cognitive ability data. The present result is consistent with previous studies employing alternative methods, and may indicate the operation of several synergistic factors, such as recent micro-evolutionary trends favoring lower g in Sweden and the effects of industrially produced neurotoxic substances on peripheral nerve conduction velocity.
Background: Reaction time (RT) is one of the most widely used measures of performance in experimental psychology, yet relatively few fMRI studies have included trial-by-trial differences in RT as a predictor variable in their analyses. Using a multi-study approach, we investigated whether there are brain regions that show a general relationship between trial-by-trial RT variability and activation across a range of cognitive tasks. Methodology/Principal Findings: The relation between trial-by-trial differences in RT and brain activation was modeled in five different fMRI datasets spanning a range of experimental tasks and stimulus modalities. Three main findings were identified. First, in a widely distributed set of gray and white matter regions, activation was delayed on trials with long RTs relative to short RTs, suggesting delayed initiation of underlying physiological processes. Second, in lateral and medial frontal regions, activation showed a "time-on-task'' effect, increasing linearly as a function of RT. Finally, RT variability reliably modulated the BOLD signal not only in gray matter but also in diffuse regions of white matter. Conclusions/Significance: The results highlight the importance of modeling trial-by-trial RT in fMRI analyses and raise the possibility that RT variability may provide a powerful probe for investigating the previously elusive white matter BOLD signal.
Background: Intraindividual variability in reaction time (RT) has received extensive discussion as an indicator of cognitive performance, a putative intermediate phenotype of many clinical disorders, and a possible trans-diagnostic phenotype that may elucidate shared risk factors for mechanisms of psychiatric illnesses. Scope and Methodology: Using the examples of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorders (ASD), we discuss RT variability. We first present a new meta-analysis of RT variability in ASD with and without comorbid ADHD. We then discuss potential mechanisms that may account for RT variability and statistical models that disentangle the cognitive processes affecting RTs. We then report a second meta-analysis comparing ADHD and non-ADHD children on diffusion model parameters. We consider how findings inform the search for neural correlates of RT variability. Findings: Results suggest that RT variability is increased in ASD only when children with comorbid ADHD are included in the sample. Furthermore, RT variability in ADHD is explained by moderate to large increases (d = 0.63-0.99) in the ex-Gaussian parameter τ and the diffusion parameter drift rate, as well as by smaller differences (d = 0.32) in the diffusion parameter of nondecision time. The former may suggest problems in state regulation or arousal and difficulty detecting signal from noise, whereas the latter may reflect contributions from deficits in motor organization or output. The neuroimaging literature converges with this multicomponent interpretation and also highlights the role of top-down control circuits. Conclusion: We underscore the importance of considering the interactions between top-down control, state regulation (e.g. arousal), and motor preparation when interpreting RT variability and conclude that decomposition of the RT signal provides superior interpretive power and suggests mechanisms convergent with those implicated using other cognitive paradigms. We conclude with specific recommendations for the field for next steps in the study of RT variability in neurodevelopmental disorders.
Background: Intra-individual variability in reaction time (RT IIV) is considered to be an index of central nervous system functioning. Such variability is elevated in neurodegenerative diseases or following traumatic brain injury. It has also been suggested to increase with age in healthy ageing. Objectives: To investigate and quantify age differences in RT IIV in healthy ageing; to examine the effect of different tasks and procedures; to compare raw and mean-adjusted measures of RT IIV. Data Sources: Four electronic databases: PsycINFO, Medline, Web of Science and EMBASE, and hand searching of reference lists of relevant studies. Study Eligibility: English language journal articles, books or book chapters, containing quantitative empirical data on simple and/or choice RT IIV. Samples had to include younger (under 60 years) and older (60 years and above) human adults. Study Appraisal and Synthesis: Studies were evaluated in terms of sample representativeness and data treatment. Relevant data were extracted, using a specially-designed form, from the published report or obtained directly from the study authors. Age-group differences in raw and RT-mean-adjusted measures of simple and choice RT IIV were quantified using random effects meta-analyses. Results: Older adults (60+ years) had greater RT IIV than younger (20-39) and middle-aged (40-59) adults. Age effects were larger in choice RT tasks than in simple RT tasks. For all measures of RT IIV, effect sizes were larger for the comparisons between older and younger adults than between older and middle-aged adults, indicating that the age-related increases in RT IIV are not limited to old age. Effect sizes were also larger for raw than for RT-mean-adjusted RT IIV measures. Conclusions: RT IIV is greater among older adults. Some (but not all) of the age-related increases in RT IIV are accounted for by the increased RT means.
Manual and saccadic reaction times (SRTs) have been used to determine the minimum time required for different types of visual categorizations. Such studies have demonstrated extremely rapid detection of faces within natural scenes, whereas increasingly complex decisions (i.e. levels of processing) require longer processing times. We reasoned that visual categorization speed is not only dependent on the processing level, but is further affected by decisional space constraints. In the context of two different tasks, observers performed choice saccades towards female (gender categorization) or personally familiar (familiarity categorization) faces. Additionally, familiarity categorizations were completed with stimulus sets that differed in the number of individuals presented (3 vs. 7 identities) to investigate the effect of decisional space constraints. We observe an inverse relationship between visual categorization proficiency and decisional space. Observers were most accurate for categorization of gender, which could be achieved in as little as 140 ms. Categorization of highly predictable targets was more error-prone and required an additional ∼100 ms processing time. Our findings add to an increasing body of evidence demonstraing that pre-activation of identity-information can modulate early visual processing in a top-down manner. They also emphasize the importance of considering procedural aspects, as well as terminology when aiming to characterize cognitive processes.
Before initiating a saccade to a moving target, the brain must take into account the target’s eccentricity as well as its movement direction and speed. We tested how the kinematic characteristics of the target influence the time course of this oculomotor response. Participants performed a step-ramp task in which the target object stepped from a central to an eccentric position and moved at constant velocity either to the fixation position (foveopetal) or further to the periphery (foveofugal). The step size and target speed were varied. Of particular interest were trials that exhibited an initial saccade prior to a smooth pursuit eye movement. Measured saccade reaction times were longer in the foveopetal than in the foveofugal condition. In the foveopetal (but not the foveofugal) condition, the occurrence of an initial saccade, its reaction time as well as the strength of the pre-saccadic pursuit response depended on both the target’s speed and the step size. A common explanation for these results may be found in the neural mechanisms that select between oculomotor response alternatives, i.e., a saccadic or smooth response.
Simple reaction time to visual stimuli depends on several stimulus properties. Recently, converging evidence showed that larger stimulus size evokes faster reactions and that this effect seemingly depends on the stimulus' perceived size rather than on physical stimulus properties. Size-distance scaling usually is regarded as the main functional mechanism underlying size perception. Yet, the role of stimulus depth (distance to a target) has often been neglected in previous studies. Hence, in the present investigation, stimuli were generated using stereo head mounted displays to manipulate stimulus depth. In Experiment 1, a large or small target was presented within the center of a reference plane, either in the same depth plane or displaced (near, far) while participants had to perform a simple reaction time task. At the same time, the target was modulated such that either retinal size was constant or variable across depth planes. In Experiments 2 and 3 the reference plane was shifted along with the target (blocked or on a trial-by-trial basis), while retinal size modulation was equal to Experiment 1. As expected, participants reacted faster to physically larger targets. Also Experiment 1 revealed faster reaction times for closer targets, while the commonly described connection between perceived size (i.e., size-distance scaling) was not apparent in any experiment. Thus, unlike past findings using a virtual three-dimensional task-setting (as induced by binocular disparity) reaction times are not affected by variations of perceived stimulus size.
Intraindividual variability (IIV) refers to the variation in reaction time (RT) performance across a given cognitive task. As greater IIV may reflect compromise of the frontal circuitry implicated in falls and gait impairment in older adults, we conducted a systematic review of the literature relating to this issue. Searches were conducted of electronic databases that identified empirical investigations of IIV, falls, and gait in older adult samples with a mean age of 65 years or older. Data were extracted relating to IIV measures, study population, and outcomes. Of 433 studies initially identified, 9 met inclusion criteria for IIV and falls (n = 5), and gait (n = 4). Representing a total of 2,810 older participants, all of the studies of IIV and falls showed that elevated variability was associated with increased risk of falling, and half of the studies of gait indicated greater IIV was related to gait impairment. Across studies, IIV measures were consistently associated with falls in older persons and demonstrated some potential in relation to gait. IIV metrics may, therefore, have considerable potential in clinical contexts and supplement existing test batteries in the assessment of falls risk and gait impairment in older populations.