ALSPAC – Age 15.5 – Inhibition (Stop Signal Task)

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The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) assessed their cohort members (CMs) during the study’s age 15.5 sweep (TeenFocus 3) using the Inhibition (Stop Signal Task) measure.

Details on this measure and the data collected from the CMs are outlined in the table below.


Domain:Reaction time
Measures:Choice reaction time
Response inhibition
CHC:Decision Speed/Reaction Time (Gt)
Administration method:Trained interviewer; clinical setting; CAPI
Procedure:Sitting in front of the computer monitor, the child was instructed to place their two index fingers in two stimulus boxes, labelled X and O respectively. Two types of trials were performed: primary task trials and stop signal trials. For the primary task, the child was asked to focus on a small smiley face presented in the centre of the computer screen. An X or O would then be presented on the screen and the child had to press the corresponding button as fast as possible. A mean reaction time was calculated (this is used to calculate a tone delay used in subsequent trials; see below). The stop signal task was identical to the primary task except that a bleep (stop signal) was heard randomly after the X or O appears (the go signal). If the bleep was not heard the child was asked to press the corresponding button according to what was presented on screen. When the bleep was sounded the child was told to refrain from pressing the response button, therefore inhibiting the stimulus response. The bleep sounded on random trials at 150 ms or 250 ms before the child's reaction time (as calculated in the Primary Task Trials). For those children that were deaf or had severe hearing difficulties, a visual stop signal was used instead. For those children who could only use one hand, a one-handed stimulus box was used. The young person receives four blocks of trials. The first block consisted of Xs and Os with no beeps (30 trials in total) - the young person practiced the button presses here. The second block consisted of Xs, Os and beeps (24 trials in total 8 of which have a beep) - the young person practiced the button presses with beeps here. The third and fourth blocks were the actual experimental trials. Each experimental block consisted of 48 trials total in each. 32 of those trials were without beeps, and 16 trials were with beeps.
Link to questionnaire:http://www.bristol.ac.uk/alspac/researchers/our-data/clinical-measures/ (opens in new tab)
Scoring:Mean reaction time across different conditions.
Item-level variable(s):Not readily available
Total score/derived variable(s):fh6910 - fh6953
Descriptives:Correct block 1 (mean RT)Correct type p (mean RT)
N = 5,252N = 5,252
Range = 45 - 841Range = 284 - 831
Mean = 423.78Mean = 568.78
SD = 66.95SD = 81.40
(click image to enlarge)
(click image to enlarge)
Incorrect type s (mean RT)Incorrect type ss (mean RT)
N = 2,734N = 4,344
Range = 49 - 999Range = 1 - 995
Mean = 448.55Mean = 464.52
SD = 139.25SD = 87.95
(click image to enlarge)
(click image to enlarge)
Age of participants:Mean = 185.69 months, SD = 4.24, Range = 171 - 212
Other sweep and/or cohort:ALSPAC – Age 10 – Inhibition (Stop-Signal Task)
Source:Logan, G. D., Cowan, W. B., & Davis, K. A. (1984). On the ability to inhibit simple and choice reaction time responses: a model and a method. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 10(2), 276.
Technical resources:None
Reference examples:Pindus, D. M., Davis, R. D. M., Hillman, C. H., Bandelow, S., Hogervorst, E., Biddle, S. J., & Sherar, L. B. (2015). The relationship of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity to cognitive processing in adolescents: findings from the ALSPAC birth cohort. Psychological Research, 79(5), 715-728.
Wallace, S., & Linscott, R. J. (2018). Intra-individual variability and psychotic-like experiences in adolescents: Findings from the ALSPAC cohort. Schizophrenia Research, 195, 154-159.

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This page is part of CLOSER’s ‘A guide to the cognitive measures in five British birth cohort studies’.