I am working on various experimental protocols aiming to measure ethically the threshold between the ability and inability to perform a sequence of tasks of increasing difficulty (See Ethical testing of (poor) abilities in animals other than humans? for more context).

After presenting some preliminary results and directions for future work in an Ethology laboratory, I was advised to look into the "go, no go" protocol as a way to demonstrate or measure ethically the inability of a subject to perform a given tasks. Searching the web for the definition of such protocol, I found

  • the wikipedia definition of the protocol, which precises in particular that it is "used to measure a participant's capacity for sustained attention and response control";
  • an interesting demonstration of a "go, no go" protocol and
  • an indirect description of such a protocol (but which helped me more than the Wikipedia definition) in a figure of a neuropsychological article ("Subjects were instructed to respond as quickly as possible to the variously shaped stimuli, but to withhold this pre-potent response on trials where an “X” was superimposed on the stimulus.")

None of these definition seem relevant for proving or measuring the inability of a subject to perform a given task (e.g. reading a text in green on a red background for a subject who is totally green colorblind). Am I misunderstanding the applications of "go/no go" protocols? Can it be used to prove or measure the inability of a subject to perform a given task?


1 Answer 1


Go/no-go tasks are a type of cognitive task that is used to measure a person's ability to inhibit an automatic or habitual response. In a go/no-go task, the participant is presented with a series of stimuli and is asked to respond to some of them (the "go" stimuli) but not to others (the "no-go" stimuli). This type of task is often used to measure sustained attention and response control, as you mentioned in your question. Go/no-go tasks can be used to measure the inability of a subject to perform a given task in certain circumstances. For example, if you wanted to measure a person's ability to perform a task that required them to identify and respond to a specific color, you could use a go/no-go task in which the go stimuli are the target color and the no-go stimuli are other colors. In this case, the person's ability to correctly respond to the go stimuli and inhibit their response to the no-go stimuli would be a measure of their ability to perform the task. However, go/no-go tasks are only one way to measure a person's ability to perform a task. There are many other types of tasks and techniques that could also be used to measure a person's ability to perform a given task, depending on the specific characteristics of the task and the goals of the study.


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