The Emotional continuous performance task: a measure of “hot” and “cold” executive functions?




Schneider, Andrea

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Using neutral and emotional faces as stimuli, the Emotional Continuous Performance Task (EMO-CPT) was designed to measure both “cold” and “hot” executive functions. It was predicted that neutral stimuli would be associated with “cold” circuit functions such as sustained attention and response speed, while emotionally-laden EMO-CPT stimuli would be associated with “hot” circuit functions such as emotional judgement and response inhibition. Twenty-one male and 56 female university students (M = 21.57 years; SD = 3.15) completed the EMO-CPT, Counting Stroop (CS), Balloon Analogue Risk Task (BART), Behaviour Rating Inventory of Executive Function (BRIEF), and a demographic survey. The EMO-CPT consisted of 240 trials counterbalanced into 8 separate blocks of neutral, happy, and angry faces, with 1500ms and 3000ms stimulus intervals. Principle axis factor analysis with orthogonal (varimax) rotation revealed “Sustained/Speed” (SS; Eigenvalue = 4.26) and “Accuracy/Inhibition” (AI; Eigenvalue = 2.49) factors accounting for 48.75% of the total variance. The SS factor was modestly correlated with the BRIEF Metacognitive Index (MI; r=.25), and both the Sustained/Speed factor (r=.27) and the Accuracy/Inhibition factor (r=.25) were modestly correlated with the BRIEF Behavioural Regulation Index (BRI). As predicted, “cold” Counting Stroop reaction time variables were related to the Sustained/Speed factor (r’s .30 to .36), and the “hot” BART adjusted inflations SD were related to the Accuracy/Inhibition factor (r = -.22). Correlated with the CS and BRIEF MI, the Sustained/Speed factor appeared to tap “cold” dorsal circuit functions, while the Accuracy/Inhibition factor appeared to be related to “hot” ventral circuit functions.



“hot” and “cold” executive function, frontal-subcortical circuits, emotion regulation, executive function, continuous performance task