Protocol - Auditory Continuous Performance Test (ACPT) Battery

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The Auditory Continuous Performance Test (ACPT) Battery is a compilation of four auditory vigilance tests designed to measure the cognitive functions of working memory and interference control. Each subsequent version increases the cognitive load on the subject, allowing the investigator to ascertain processing susceptibilities. The tests are administered and scored using a computer. A test administrator reads each test’s instructions and then the participant performs each test, first in a practice session and then in the formal test. The examiner can choose which tests to use depending on the age of the subject and also the research or clinical questions being asked.

Specific Instructions

1. The examiner should ensure that the sound level is comfortable for the participant being tested and that they are proficient in responding with the mouse or keyboard. Instructions and practice are given before the test. Before proceeding to the test, the examiner must be convinced that the subject understands the task by demonstrating proficiency during the practice session.

2. The Auditory Continuous Performance Test (ACPT) battery focuses on vigilance and working memory (WM) under different load conditions in the auditory modality. The QA-vigilance task can be contrasted with Penn Visual Continuous Performance Test (CPT) in the Computerized Neurocognitive Battery (CNB). It may also be compared to performance on the AX-Continuous Performance Test (AX-CPT). It may also be compared to the Letter N-Back (LNB) WM task in the Computerized Neurocognitive Battery (CNB).

3. The QA-vigilance task is the easiest of the tasks and the first block of vigilance should be done first to get the subject into the set. The choice of other tasks is optional although it is recommended that vigilance, working memory, and at least one of the interference tasks be used.

4. The ACPT battery can be used to assess any neuropsychiatric disorders. It is not limited to studying psychotic disorders or risk for psychosis. At this date, the test is validated for children 12 years or older.

The ACPT battery can be used in combination with task fMRI.


Limited Availability


To obtain the computerized version of the test, contact the author, Dr. Seidman.

Below is a sample of what each task may sound like.


Task Instructions, Stimuli, and Response


"Respond to a preceded immediately by q."

o a s q A w q y p q A c …

Q3A-MEM - working memory

"Respond to a preceded by q four letters previously."

r q s p b A q t o c n q c z o A


Low-load working memory + interference

"Respond to a preceded by q two letters previously."

q s q a A c g a q q A A m s r …


High-load working memory with interference

"Respond to a preceded by q four letters previously."

q s q b r a A c g q z q h A p A m …

Personnel and Training Required

The interviewer should be a psychologist, a psychologist in training, or a technician under the supervision of a psychologist.

Equipment Needs

The PhenX Working Group acknowledges these questions are administered in a computerized format and will require a laptop computer/handheld computer to administer this protocol.

Requirement CategoryRequired
Major equipment No
Specialized training Yes
Specialized requirements for biospecimen collection No
Average time of greater than 15 minutes in an unaffected individual No
Mode of Administration

Performance-based task


Adolescent, Adult, Senior


Teenagers and adults, ages 12 and up

Selection Rationale

Continuous performance tests (CPTs) have been used for the last 60 years as indicators of vigilance and sustained attention in mental illness, especially schizophrenia. These auditory CPTs have proven to be sensitive to impairments in persons at clinical and familial risk for schizophrenia, schizotypal personality disorder, and in schizophrenia.

These tests can be scaled up or down to support a study’s targeted age group.



Human Phenotype Ontology Cognitive impairment HP:0100543 HPO
Derived Variables


Process and Review

Not applicable.

Protocol Name from Source

Auditory Continuous Performance Test (ACPT) Battery


Seidman, L. J., Meyer, E. C., Giuliano, A. J., Breiter, H. C., Goldstein, J. M., Kremen, W. S., . . . Faraone, S. V. (2012). Auditory working memory impairments in individuals at familial high risk for schizophrenia. Neuropsychology, 26(3), 288-303. doi:10.1037/a0027970

General References

Seidman, L. J., Breiter, H., Goodman, J. M., Goldstein, J. M., Woodruff, P., O’Craven, K., Savoy, R., Tsuang, M. T., & Rosen, B. R. (1988). A functional magnetic resonance imaging study of auditory vigilance with low and high information processing demands. Neuropsychology, 12, 505-518.

Huang, S., Seidman, L. J., Rossi, S., & Ahveninen, J. (2013). Distinct cortical networks activated by auditory attention and working memory load. Neuroimage, 83, 1098-1108.

Protocol ID


Export Variables
Variable Name Variable IDVariable DescriptiondbGaP Mapping
PX660401000000 Protocol 660401 - proprietary. Check DCW for more
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Early Psychosis Translational Research
Measure Name

Auditory Vigilance

Release Date

January 17, 2017


Computer-administered task that measures cognitive functions.


This measure assesses deficits in cognition-specifically, auditory vigilance and working memory-with and without interference.


Auditory Working Memory, AWM, Auditory Continuous Performance Test, ACPT, Continuous performance task, CPT, working memory, WM, Schizophrenia, interference control, vigilance, goal maintenance, early psychosis, psychometrics

Measure Protocols
Protocol ID Protocol Name
660401 Auditory Continuous Performance Test (ACPT) Battery

There are no publications listed for this protocol.