Evaluation of the validity of the Psychology Experiment Building Language tests of vigilance, auditory memory, and decision making

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Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences


Background. The Psychology Experimental Building Language (PEBL) test battery (http://pebl.sourceforge.net/) is a popular application for neurobehavioral investigations. This study evaluated the correspondence between the PEBL and the non-PEBL versions of four executive function tests. Methods. In one cohort, young-adults (N = 44) completed both the Conner's Continuous Performance Test (CCPT) and the PEBL CPT (PCPT) with the order counter-balanced. In a second cohort, participants (N = 47) completed a non-computerized (Wechsler) and a computerized (PEBL) Digit Span (WDS or PDS) both Forward and Backward. Participants also completed the Psychological Assessment Resources or the PEBL versions of the Iowa Gambling Task (PARIGT or PEBLIGT). Results. The between-test correlations were moderately high (reaction time r = 0.78, omission errors r = 0.65, commission errors r = 0.66) on the CPT. DS Forward was significantly greater than DS Backward on the WDS (p < .0005) and the PDS (p < .0005). The total WDS score was moderately correlated with the PDS (r = 0.56). The PARIGT and the PEBLIGTs showed a very similar pattern for response times across blocks, development of preference for Advantageous over Disadvantageous Decks, and Deck selections. However, the amount of money earned (score-loan) was significantly higher in the PEBLIGT during the last Block. Conclusions. These findings are broadly supportive of the criterion validity of the PEBL measures of sustained attention, short-term memory, and decision making. Select differences between workalike versions of the same test highlight how detailed aspects of implementation may have more important consequences for computerized testing than has been previously acknowledged.

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© 2016 Piper et al. Publisher’s version of record: https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.1772

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