Sleep and Breathing

, 11:217 | Cite as

Normative psychomotor vigilance task performance in children ages 6 to 11—the Tucson Children’s Assessment of Sleep Apnea (TuCASA)

  • Claire C. VenkerEmail author
  • James L. Goodwin
  • Denise J. Roe
  • Kristine L. Kaemingk
  • Shelagh Mulvaney
  • Stuart F. Quan
Original Article


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.


Children Pediatrics Reaction time Psychomotor vigilance task 



The authors wish to thank Charles Wynstra, MBA, RRT; Marty Ukockis, RPSGT, RRT; Marissa Carey, Ph.D.; Fernanda Martinez, Ph.D.; and Mary Frances Miller, BA, for their diligence in data collection and scoring. We also thank the principals, teachers, parents, and students from the Tucson Unified School District for their ongoing support of this research. This document is a portion of a thesis submitted in partial completion of the requirements for a Master of Science degree at the University of Arizona. This work was supported by HL 62373 from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Claire C. Venker
    • 1
    Email author
  • James L. Goodwin
    • 2
  • Denise J. Roe
    • 1
  • Kristine L. Kaemingk
    • 3
  • Shelagh Mulvaney
    • 4
  • Stuart F. Quan
    • 5
  1. 1.College of Public HealthUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA
  2. 2.Arizona Respiratory CenterUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA
  3. 3.Children’s Research CenterUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA
  4. 4.Center for Evaluation & Program ImprovementVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA
  5. 5.Colleges of Medicine and Public Health, Sleep and Arizona Respiratory CentersUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA

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