The impact of lures on a mobile digitized n-back

Written by Kevin E. Carroll, James I. McCollum, Mylea Charvat on . Posted in Volume XXIII, Nr 2


Kevin E. Carroll*, James I. McCollum, Mylea Charvat

Savonix Inc., San Francisco, California, United States of America
Addendum: University of San Francisco, United States of America, Adjunct Faculty


The n-back test is a routinely used instrument in neurocognitive research. We examined a new digitized version of this cognitive tool for the effects of lures in a 2-back task. Subjects consisted of 1314 participants, ranging in age from 15 to 76, who agreed to participate and were part of a larger validation study. We were particularly interested in the added cognitive cost that a lure would elicit and assumed would adversely affect performance. However, results indicated that the occurrence of a lure seemed to have a facilitatory effect in terms of faster response time to targets when a lure was present. Because a 2-back task can be cognitively challenging, we also had expected that over the course of the 60-trial test that subjects would exhibit cognitive fatigue as manifested by slower response time and decreased accuracy. Instead, we found that subjects’ performance improved in both response time and accuracy over the course of the test whether lures were present or not. We also briefly discuss that the modality and paradigm used in n-back studies may be considered as significant factors when comparing different studies.

Keywords: n-back, lure, cognitive cost, working memory



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