Attention Over Time


The capacity to sustain attention is essential for everyday functioning. Arousal has been shown as an important factor when considering changes to attentional performance. Primate studies depict an inverted u relationship in which performance is most severely affected at extreme levels of high and low arousal. The implications of arousal modulating sustained attention for research studies is unclear.

Research Questions / Hypotheses

This study aimed to investigate how natural variation of arousal states modifies sustained attention performance. It was hypothesised that an inverted-u relationship would dictate this relation, with states of extreme high and low arousal associated with worst attention and moderate arousal with peak sustained attention performance.


200 REP participants completed the study, with 161 remaining after participants were excluded due to performance indication that they had not correctly completed the study or participant medical history which may have extraneously varied sustained attention performance.


The SART and the KSS were used to assess participant sustained attention performance and arousal states. Participants completed these assessments on their personal computers, alongside additional questionnaire material.


Regression analyses were used to investigate whether KSS scores could be predictive of SART performance outcomes.


The results suggested that KSS could not predict SART performance outcomes. This results support an interpretation that across natural levels of arousal variation, performance on a non-alerting, monotonous task is not at a deficit. This has positive implications for future use of the SART as it seems arousal is not an extraneous factor which needs to be considered in research. It also has wider implications for attention maintenance everyday.