The sustained attention to response task (SART) usefulness as a measure of sustained attention has been questioned. The SART may instead be a better measure of other psychological processes and could prove useful in understanding some real-world behaviours. Thirty participants completed four Go/No-Go response tasks much like the SART, with Go-stimuli proportions of .50, .65, .80 and .95. As Go-stimuli proportion increased, reaction times decreased while both commission errors and self-reported task-related thoughts increased. Performance measures were associated with task-related thoughts but not task-unrelated thoughts. Instead of faster reaction times and increased commission errors being due to absentmindedness or perceptual decoupling from the task, the results suggested participants made use of two competing response strategies, in line with a response strategy or response inhibition perspective of SART performance. Interestingly, performance measures changed in a nonlinear manner, despite the linear Go proportion increase. A threshold may exist where the prepotent motor response becomes more pronounced, leading to the disproportionate increase in response speed and commission errors. This research has implications for researchers looking to employ the SART and for more applied contexts where the consequences of response inhibition failures can be serious.
Wilson, K. M., Finkbeiner, K. M., De Joux, N. R., Russell, P. N., & Helton, W. S. (2016). Go-stimuli proportion influences response strategy in a sustained attention to response task. Experimental Brain Research, 234(10), 2989-2998. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00221-016-4701-x