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The impact of target frequency on intra-individual variability in euthymic bipolar disorder: A comparison of two sustained attention tasks

Lookup NU author(s): Rachel Moss, Dr Andreas FinkelmeyerORCiD, Dr Lucy Robinson, Jill Thompson, Dr Stuart Watson, Emeritus Professor Nicol Ferrier, Dr Peter GallagherORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2016 Moss, Finkelmeyer, Robinson, Thompson, Watson, Ferrier and Gallagher. Greater intra-individual variability (IIV) in reaction time (RT) on a sustained attention task has been reported in patients with bipolar disorder (BD) compared with healthy controls. However, it is unclear whether IIV is task specific, or whether it represents general cross-task impairment in BD. This study aimed to investigate whether IIV occurs in sustained attention tasks with different parameters. Twenty-two patients with BD (currently euthymic) and 17 controls completed two sustained attention tasks on different occasions: A low target frequency (~20%) Vigil continuous performance test (CPT) and a high target frequency (~70%) CPT version A-X (CPT-AX). Variability measures (individual standard deviation and coefficient of variation) were calculated per participant, and ex-Gaussian modeling was also applied. This was supplemented by Vincentile analysis to characterize RT distributions. Results indicated that participants (patients and controls) were generally slower and more variable when completing the Vigil CPT compared with CPT-AX. Significant group differences were also observed in the Vigil CPT, with euthymic BD patients being more variable than controls. This result suggests that IIV in BD demonstrates some degree of task specificity. Further research should incorporate analysis of additional RT distributional models (drift diffusion and fast Fourier transform) to fully characterize the pattern of IIV in BD, as well as its relationship to cognitive processes.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Moss RA, Finkelmeyer A, Robinson LJ, Thompson JM, Watson S, Ferrier IN, Gallagher P

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Frontiers in Psychiatry

Year: 2016

Volume: 7

Online publication date: 16/06/2016

Acceptance date: 03/06/2016

Date deposited: 06/04/2017

ISSN (print): 1664-0640

Publisher: Frontiers Research Foundation


DOI: 10.3389/fpsyt.2016.00106


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