The usefulness of reaction time tasks in studying attention and organization of behavior in young children

Renata Weissberg, Holly A. Ruff, Katharine R. Lawson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Three studies explored reaction time procedures as a means of assessing sustained attention and response organization in preschoolers: In the first study, an auditory reaction time task was administered to 65 3.5-year-olds. Performance deteriorated over trials, paralleling results reported for older children and adults. Performance on the task was also related to the hyperactivity subscale of the Conners Parents' Questionnaire and to Stanford-Binet IQ. In a second cross-sectional study, performance on a visual reaction time task improved significantly from 2.5 to 4.5 years. A third study demonstrated individual stability and reasonable test-retest reliability for all measures. The results suggest that reaction time tasks can be usefully employed with young children to measure developmental changes and individual differences in sustained attention and organization of behavior. J. Dev. Behav Pediatr 11:59–64, 1990. Index terms: Reaction time, errors of omission, errors of commission, vigilance, preschoolers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-64
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1990


  • Errors of commission
  • Errors of omission
  • Preschoolers
  • Reaction time
  • Vigilance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'The usefulness of reaction time tasks in studying attention and organization of behavior in young children'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this