THE ATTENTION NETWORK TEST (ANT): INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES? AND ?COMPONENTS OF ATTENTION ACROSS THE LIFE SPAN
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Using orthogonal subtractions of performance in selected conditions the attentional network test (ANT) measures the efficacy of three isolable components of attention: alerting, orienting, and executive control. This dissertation evaluated: 1) the relationship between these attention networks and absentmindedness measured by the Cognitive Failures Questionnaire (CFQ) and 2) stability, isolability, robustness, and reliability of the two versions of the ANT (Fan et al., 2002 and Callejas et al., 2005) with young adults and older adults and of the child version of the ANT (Rueda et al., 2004) with young children when tested over 10 sessions. A greater degree of absentmindedness as measured with CFQ was associated with a greater alerting network score in RT and with a greater orienting network scores in error rate when the ANT-I was used. However, a greater degree of absentmindedness was associated with a smaller orienting network score in error rate when the ANT was used. These results suggest that the alerting and the orienting networks are related to absentmindedness. However, the orienting networks in the two ANTs were related to absentmindedness differently which supports the proposal (Klein, 2009) that there are fundamental differences between attention when controlled endogenously (ANT) as opposed to exogenously (ANT-I). For young adults and older adults, all network scores in RT remained robust even after nine previous sessions despite some practice effects especially in the executive network both with the ANT and the ANT-I. There was some evidence that the networks do not operate independently in all situations. As expected, reliability increased as more data are added. For young children, only the alerting network scores remained robust over time. Learning effects were observed only with the executive network. The reliability was poor even when more data were added. This made it difficult to assess the isolability of the network scores. The ANT and the ANT-I were associated to the CFQ scores in a limited way. The ANT and the ANT-I can be used for applications requiring repeated testing, but the child ANT may not be suitable for such purpose.