Assessment of attention in biological mothers using the attention network test - revised


Previous research has evaluated the cognitive effects of pregnancy, yet only a handful of studies have specifically evaluated maternal attention. This will be the first study to investigate the effects of biological motherhood (M = 3.5 years postpartum) on attention network functioning. The Attention Network Test – Revised was selected to investigate mothers’ attentional network functioning during the years following childbirth. The current study examined alerting, orienting, and executive control attention scores in mothers and non-mothers. Self-report measures were also used to investigate the relationships between behaviorally tested attention and perceived stress and attentiveness. Findings indicated that mothers and non-mothers have similar alerting and orienting attention, but mothers had better executive control attention. Perceived attentiveness predicted orienting scores, with an inverse relationship between explicit feelings of attentiveness and the orienting attention response times indicates that subjective inattentiveness is related to slower orienting.

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Fig. 1


  1. 1.

    Using G*Power (Faul et al. 2009), an a priori power analysis determined an N of 128 (2 groups of 64) was sufficient to reach 80% power with a 95% CI and a moderate effect size of d = 0.5. However, available funding limited our sample size of mothers to 60.

  2. 2.

    Mean executive control location scores (RTlocation incongruent – RTlocation congruent) were not different from zero (M = −0.28, SD = 29.09) = 0, t(97) = −0.924, p = .924. The participants’ RT in the location incongruent trials were the same as in the location congruent trials, suggesting no location conflict effect; therefore, executive control location scores were removed from further analyses.


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This work was supported by the University of West Florida’s Scholarly and Creative Activities Committee under Grant [number 164396]; and by Purdue University, College of Liberal Art’s Promise Award under Grant [number 3200008552].

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Correspondence to Valerie Miller.

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The author reports no conflicts of interest.

Ethics Approval

This study was approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) at the University of West Florida and Purdue University [number 1710019792]. We certify that the study was performed in accordance with the ethical standards as laid down in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments.

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Miller, V., VanWormer, L.A. & Veile, A. Assessment of attention in biological mothers using the attention network test - revised. Curr Psychol (2020).

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  • Maternal attention
  • Mommy-brain
  • Perceived attention
  • Postpartum cognition
  • ANT-R