Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 236, Issue 8, pp 2255–2262 | Cite as

You are measuring the decision to be fast, not inattention: the Sustained Attention to Response Task does not measure sustained attention

  • Jasmine S. DangEmail author
  • Ivonne J. Figueroa
  • William S. Helton
Research Article


The Sustained Attention to Response Task (SART) has been widely used in psychological literature as a measure of vigilance (the ability to sustain attention over a prolonged period of time). This task uses a Go/No-Go paradigm and requires the participants to repetitively respond to the stimuli as quickly and as accurately as possible. Previous literature indicates that performance in SART is subjected to a “speed–accuracy trade-off” (SATO) resulting from strategy choices and from the failures of controlling motor reflexes. In this study, 36 participants (n = 36) performed a series of four SARTs. The results support the perspective of strategy choice in SART and suggest that within-subjects SATO in SART should also be acknowledged in attempting to explain SART performance. The implications of the speed–accuracy trade-off should be fully understood when the SART is being used as a measure or tool.


Sustained Attention to Response Task Speed–accuracy trade-off Within-subject speed–accuracy trade-off (SATO) 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors listed above declare that there is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jasmine S. Dang
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ivonne J. Figueroa
    • 1
  • William S. Helton
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyGeorge Mason UniversityFairfaxUSA

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