Initial development of an auditory continuous performance test for preschoolers

E. M. Mahone, J. P. Pillion, J. R. Hiemenz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Continuous performance tests, while readily available for school-aged children, are used sparingly with preschoolers. Research assessing auditory sustained attention in preschoolers has had mixed success, partly due to the task difficulty for children under age five. In particular, three-year-old children have shown great difficulty with these tasks because of test length, number of distracter stimuli, and short interstimulus intervals. To address these concerns, the Auditory Continuous Performance Test for Preschoolers (ACPT-P) was developed. The ACPT-P is an auditory, computer-based, go no-go, continuous performance test, using one target stimulus and one distracter, presented with a fixed interstimulus interval over a five-minute period. This study examined the psychometric properties and initial validity of the ACPT-P in a sample of 87 typically developing preschoolers. In our sample, children as young as 36 months completed the ACPT-P with few omission or commission errors. Results also indicated a developmental trend, with improved performance with increasing age from age three to six years. Response latency and variability decreased steadily from age three to six years. The ACPT-P variability score was significantly correlated with the Conners' Parent Rating Scale-Revised (Short Form) ADHD Index, while both mean response latency and variability were significantly correlated with measures of motor persistence, praxis, graphomotor skill, and listening vocabulary. The ACPT-P appears to be a developmentally appropriate and potentially useful tool in the assessment of auditory attention in preschool children, especially because of its utility for children as young as 36 months.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-106
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Attention Disorders
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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