The Mesulam Continuous Performance Test (M-CPT): Age-Related and Gender Differences in the Sustained Attention of Elementary School Children

  • Joshua Sussman University of California, Berkeley
  • Anthony F. Tasso Fairleigh Dickinson University


The present study gathered normative data for the Mesulam Continuous Performance Test (M-CPT; Mesulam, 1985) and illustrates its potential as an efficient assessment of attention in elementary school children. The M-CPT was administered to a convenience sample of 299 6-14 year-old children drawn from a charter elementary school in Northern California. The results of a multiple regression analysis revealed that test performance generally improved with age. Logistic regression modeling indicated that female students had greater odds of committing no errors on at least one section of the M-CPT than male students, suggesting that girls had greater attentional capacity for the task. The amount of time it took each student to complete the M-CPT was investigated and it was found that age had a strong linear relationship with time to completion. The results suggest that time to completion could be a developmentally sensitive marker of sustained attention. M-CPT completion time offers promise in an assessment of attention problems. Implications are discussed.


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