Normative psychomotor vigilance task performance in children ages 6 to 11 - The Tucson Children's Assessment of Sleep Apnea (TuCASA)

Claire C. Venker, James L. Goodwin, Denise Roe, Kristine L. Kaemingk, Shelagh Mulvaney, Stuart F Quan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Scopus citations


Although the psychomotor vigilance task (PVT) is commonly used in sleep and other research settings, normative data for PVT performance in children have not been published. This report presents normal PVT performance measures among children without a sleep disorder participating in the Tucson Children's Assessment of Sleep Apnea (TuCASA) study. TuCASA is a community-based, prospective study of sleep-disordered breathing in Caucasian and Hispanic children ages 6 to 11 years. A standard 10-min PVT trial was completed by 360 participants - 48% female and 36% Hispanic; mean age 8.9 years. Detailed analyses were performed for 162 children with respiratory disturbance indices <1 and no parent-reported sleep problems. Mean and median reaction times (RT) decreased with increasing age (p trend < 0.001). Children ages 6 and 11 had median RTs of 544.24 and 325.70 ms, respectively. Standard deviations in RTs also decreased with increasing age (p trend = 0.001), as did lapses (p trend < 0.001), but no trend was apparent in total errors. There were statistically significant (p = 0.006) differences in the performance of boys and girls. Gender differences were greatest at age 6, where boys had shorter RTs, and decreased with age until performance was approximately equal by age 11. No ethnic differences were detected. Children's PVT performance improves with age and differs by gender. These differences should be considered when the PVT is utilized in pediatric populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-224
Number of pages8
JournalSleep and Breathing
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2007



  • Children
  • Pediatrics
  • Psychomotor vigilance task
  • Reaction time

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology

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