Computational protocol: Evaluation of the validity of the Psychology Experiment Building Language tests of vigilance, auditory memory, and decision making

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Protocol publication

[…] All procedures were approved by the Institutional Review Board of Willamette University (first cohort) or the University of Maine, Orono (second cohort). Participants were tested individually with an experimenter in the same room. Each participant completed an informed consent and a short demographic form which included items about sex, age, and whether they had been diagnosed by a medical professional with ADHD. Next, the first cohort completed either the PCPT or Version II of the CCPT, including the two-minute practice trial, with the order counter-balanced on desktop computers running Windows XP and not connected to the internet. As data collection for each CPT takes 14 min and is intentionally monotonous, the PEBL Tower of London () was completed between each CPT as a brief (≈5 min) distractor task. The PCPT was modified from the default in PEBL version 0.11 such that a mid-test break was removed and the instructions were analogous to the CCPT. The instructions of the PCPT were:You are about to take part in an experiment that involves paying attention to letters on a screen. It will take about 14 min. You will see letters presented on a screen quickly. Your goal is to press the spacebar as fast as possible after each letter, except if the letter is an ‘X’. DO NOT RESPOND to X stimuli.A total of 324 target letters (A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, O, P, Q, R, S, U) and 36 foils (X) were presented with an inter-stimulus interval of 1, 2, or 4 s. The primary dependent measures were the RT on correct trials in ms, the standard deviation (SD) of RT, omission and commission errors. The PCPT source code is also at: second cohort completed a short demographic form (described above) followed by the PEBL and non-PEBL tasks (DS-F, DS-B, and IGT) with the order counterbalanced across testing sessions. PEBL, version 0.14, was installed on Dell laptops (Latitude E6410 and 6420) running Windows 7. Both laptops were connected to Dell touchscreen monitors (20” model number 0MFT4K) which were used for selecting responses on the IGT.The Wechsler DS (WDS) consists of two trials for each number of items each read aloud by the experimenter at a rate of one per second beginning with two items. Discontinuation occurred when both trials for a single number of items were answered incorrectly. The maximum total score for DS Forward and Backward is sixteen and fourteen, respectively. The PEBL Digit Span (PDS) source code was modified slightly from the default version so that stimuli were presented via headphones (one per 1,000 ms) but not visually (PEBL script available at: in order to be more similar to the WDS. Two trials were completed for each number of items starting with three items. Digit stimuli were generated randomly such that each sequence contained no more than one of each digit. Discontinuation occurred when both trials for a single number of items were answered incorrectly. An important methodological difference between the WDS and the PDS involves how responses are collected. The traditional WDS involves oral responses coded by the experimenter. The PDS involves typed input with the response sequence visible on-screen as it is made. Furthermore, blank entries are permitted and participants have the ability to delete erroneous responses (see for the source code and task instructions).The PARIGT (Version 1.00) was installed on a laptop (Dell Latitude E6410) with headphones. The administration instructions were shown and read/paraphrased for the participant (; ) and the default settings were used. The PEBLIGT was also administered with the order counterbalanced. Because others have identified pronounced practice effects with the IGT (; ; ; ; ) and we found that the amount earned increase by 106.3% on the second administration (), only data from the IGT administered first was examined. The PEBLIGT has modifications contributed by P. N. Bull (Supplemental Information at: and is a more refined version of the task than has been used previously (; ; ; ). If scores go below zero, participants will receive a second $2,000 loan. Importantly, the PEBLIGT is based on the procedures described in while the PARIGT is based on those described in great detail in . The instructions are 14% shorter on the PEBLIGT but perhaps the largest procedural difference is the negative consequences of Disadvantageous Decks are amplified in the PARIGT (). [...] The overall data analytic strategy to evaluate test validity was tailored to the characteristics of each test. For the CPT and DS, this involved calculating intra-test correlations (), cross-test correlations (r = .30–.70 are moderate, r > .70 are high), and comparing means across platforms. Similar intra-test correlations, high and significant cross-test correlations, and small/non-significant differences in means are supportive of test similarity. Due to substantial practice effects on the IGT (; ; ), and that not all of the second IGT tests were completed, due to participant time limitations, data from the second IGT was not examined and analyses instead focused on determining the response patterns within the first test and whether they were similar across platforms. The standardized (age and sex corrected) scores (percentiles) of the sample were reported for the CCPT and PARIGT. The PCPT output text files were imported into Excel and all analyses were subsequently conducted using Systat, version 13.0. The distribution on some measures (e.g., RT), were, as anticipated, non-normal, therefore both Pearson (rP) and Spearman rho (rS) correlation coefficients were completed as was done previously (). As the PCPT default settings express the variability in RT slightly differently (SD) than the cCPT (SE), the PEBL output was converted to the SE according to the formula SD/(N − 1)0.5 where N is the total number of correct trials across the three inter-trial intervals. Differences in intra-test correlations (e.g., omission by commission errors) between the PCPT and CCPT were evaluated with a Fisher r to Z transformation ( The 95% Confidence Interval (CI) of select Pearson correlations was determined ( and the effect size of group differences was expressed in terms of Cohen’s d ( with 0.2, 0.5, and 0.8 interpreted as small, medium, and large. As the WDS starts at an easier level (2 digits) than the PDS (3 digits), two additional points were added to each (Forward and Backward) PDS for comparison purposes. The primary dependent measure on the IGT was Deck selections but Response Times on each Block of twenty-trials and the compensation (score minus loan) for each trial was also documented. The NET was calculated as Advantageous minus Disadvantageous Deck selections. Mean data are presented with the standard error of the mean (SEM) and p < .05 considered statistically significant although statistics that met more conservative alpha levels (e.g., .0005) are noted. […]

Pipeline specifications

Software tools PEBL, VassarStats, rDiff
Applications Miscellaneous, Neuropsychology analysis
Organisms Homo sapiens