Random number generation as an index of controlled processing
Jahanshahi, M., Saleem, T., Ho, A. K., Dirnberger, G. and Fuller, R. (2006) Random number generation as an index of controlled processing. Neuropsychology, 20 (4). pp. 391-399. ISSN 0894-4105
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1037/0894-4126.96.36.1991
Random number generation (RNG) is a functionally complex process that is highly controlled and therefore dependent on Baddeley's central executive. This study addresses this issue by investigating whether key predictions from this framework are compatible with empirical data. In Experiment 1, the effect of increasing task demands by increasing the rate of the paced generation was comprehensively examined. As expected, faster rates affected performance negatively because central resources were increasingly depleted. Next, the effects of participants' exposure were manipulated in Experiment 2 by providing increasing amounts of practice on the task. There was no improvement over 10 practice trials, suggesting that the high level of strategic control required by the task was constant and not amenable to any automatization gain with repeated exposure. Together, the results demonstrate that RNG performance is a highly controlled and demanding process sensitive to additional demands on central resources (Experiment 1) and is unaffected by repeated performance or practice (Experiment 2). These features render the easily administered RNG task an ideal and robust index of executive function that is highly suitable for repeated clinical use.