A Dissociation of Attention, Executive Function and Reaction to Difficulty: Development of the MindPulse Test, a Novel Digital Neuropsychological Test for Precise Quantification of Perceptual-Motor Decision-Making Processes

Sandra SUAREZ, Bertrand EYNARD & Sylvie GRANON

Contact : sandra.suarez@itsbrain.fr

Summary of the article published on 07/19/2021 in Frontiers in Neurosciences

Traditionally, neuropsychological testing has assessed processing speed and precision, closely related to the ability to perform high-order cognitive tasks. An individual making a decision under time pressure must constantly rebalance its speed to action in order to account for possible errors. A deficit in processing speed appears to be afrequent disorder caused by cerebral damage — but it can be hard to pinpoint the exact cause of the slowdown.

 

It is therefore important to separate the perceptual-motor component of processing speed from the decision-time component. We present a technique to isolate Reaction Times (RTs): a short digital test to assess the decision-making abilities of individuals by gauging their ability to balance between speed and precision. Our hypothesis is that some subjects willaccelerate, and others slow down in the face of the difficulty. This pilot study, conducted on 83 neurotypical adult volunteers, used images stimuli.

The test was designed to measure RTs and correctness. After learning release gesture, the subjects were presented with three tasks:

 

  • A simple Reaction Time task
  • A Go/No-Go
  • A complex Go/No-Go with 2 simultaneous Choices

All three tasks have in common a perceptual component and a motor response. By measuring the 3 reference points requiring attentional and executive processing, while progressively increasing the conceptual complexity of the task, we were able to compare the processing times for different tasks — thus calculating the deceleration specific to the reaction time linked to difficulty.

 

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