Continuous-performance tests (CPTs) are assessments that measure sustained attention, selective attention, and impulsivity. They can be used as part of an evaluation for ADHD. The “old school” CPTs use actual paper, pencil, and a stopwatch. The newer generation of CPTs were software applications that allowed the computer to keep track of variables. The latest CPTs use “virtual reality” in order to measure attention and impulsivity.

In a study by Adams, et al. (2009), nineteen boys with ADHD and 16 boys without ADHD were evaluated using a CPT that consisted of a “virtual reality classroom”. The virtual reality classroom mimics actual visual and auditory distractions a child would experience in the classroom. The boys were also evaluated using a “standard” computer CPT.

There was a significant difference in performance on the virtual reality CPT. The boys with ADHD showed significantly more signs of inattention and impulsivity than the control group. The virtual classroom CPT appeared to be more accurate at identifying inattention and impulsivity than the standard CPT.

Adams, et al. (2009). Distractibility in Attention/Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): the virtual reality classroom. Child Neuropsychology, 15(2), 120-135.