Tracking behavioral and neural fluctuations during sustained attention: A robust replication and extension


Francesca C. Fortenbaugh, David Rothlein, Regina McGlinchey, Joseph DeGutis, and Michael Esterman. 2018. “Tracking behavioral and neural fluctuations during sustained attention: A robust replication and extension.” NeuroImage, 171, Pp. 148-164. Publisher's Version


Novel paradigms have allowed for more precise measurements of sustained attention ability and fluctuations in sustained attention over time, as well as the neural basis of fluctuations and lapses in performance. However, in recent years, concerns have arisen over the replicability of neuroimaging studies and psychology more broadly, particularly given the typically small sample sizes. One recently developed paradigm, the gradual-onset continuous performance task (gradCPT) has been validated behaviorally in large samples of participants. Yet neuroimaging studies investigating the neural basis of performance on this task have only been collected in small samples. The present study completed both a robust replication of the original neuroimaging findings and extended previous results from the gradCPT task using a large sample of 140 Veteran participants. Results replicate findings that fluctuations in attentional stability are tracked over time by BOLD activity in task positive (e.g., dorsal and ventral attention networks) and task negative (e.g., default network) regions. Extending prior results, we relate this coupling between attentional stability and on-going brain activity to overall sustained attention ability and demonstrate that this coupling strength, along with across-network coupling, could be used to predict individual differences in performance. Additionally, the results extend previous findings by demonstrating that temporal dynamics across the default and dorsal attention networks are associated with lapse-likelihood on subsequent trials. This study demonstrates the reliability of the gradCPT, and underscores the utility of this paradigm in understanding attentional fluctuations, as well as individual variation and deficits in sustained attention.
Last updated on 04/21/2021