In researching another question, I read a few review articles that were testing behavioral and attentional variables in response to different sleep parameters. I was curious about some of these tests, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Attentional network test
  • Visual analog scale
  • Digit symbol substitution task
  • Psychomotor vigilance test
  • Four-choice reaction time test
  • Two-choice visual reaction time
  • Letter cancellation

Rather than asking for a laundry list of their characteristics, which would rail against my question asking sensibilities, I'd like to know if there is a canonical reference in which I could look up the bases for these tests.

Ideally, it would describe the tests, their objectives, the proper procedures (and any variants), statistical power as a function of participants, and any particular information about different brain areas or deficits that the tests can definitively provide. It may well be that I'll have to go back to their origins in the literature, but it would seem that there would be some sort of handbook available.


1 Answer 1


I'm not aware of a comprehensive resource that details all of this information for all of these tests. A simple solution would be to find a specific reference for each of the tests you're interested in.

A good place to start looking for these references might be The Cognitive Atlas, which has a Tasks section. For example, the page about Digit/Symbol coding test gives some information about the task, what it measures, and relevant bibliography.

For the Attentional Network Test the canonical reference is probably the paper that introduced it:

  • Fan, J., McCandliss, B. D., Sommer, T., Raz, M., & Posner, M. I. (2002). Testing the efficiency and independence of attentional networks. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 14, 340–347. PDF

Visual analog scale, as far as I know, is not a specific test, but rather a methodology of presenting a visual scale to which the participants compare something (usually something 'subjective' like pain).

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ And, I think cogsci community has a good chance of creating such a resource... $\endgroup$
    – Ofri Raviv
    Jun 27, 2012 at 6:12

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