Failures of cognitive control or attention? The case of stop-signal deficits in schizophrenia

Dora Matzke, Matthew Hughes, Johanna C. Badcock, Patricia Michie, Andrew Heathcote

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    43 Citations (Scopus)


    We used Bayesian cognitive modelling to identify the underlying causes of apparent inhibitory deficits in the stop-signal paradigm. The analysis was applied to stop-signal data reported by Badcock et al. (Psychological Medicine 32: 87-297, 2002) and Hughes et al. (Biological Psychology 89: 220-231, 2012), where schizophrenia patients and control participants made rapid choice responses, but on some trials were signalled to stop their ongoing response. Previous research has assumed an inhibitory deficit in schizophrenia, because estimates of the mean time taken to react to the stop signal are longer in patients than controls. We showed that these longer estimates are partly due to failing to react to the stop signal (“trigger failures”) and partly due to a slower initiation of inhibition, implicating a failure of attention rather than a deficit in the inhibitory process itself. Correlations between the probability of trigger failures and event-related potentials reported by Hughes et al. are interpreted as supporting the attentional account of inhibitory deficits. Our results, and those of Matzke et al. (2016), who report that controls also display a substantial although lower trigger-failure rate, indicate that attentional factors need to be taken into account when interpreting results from the stop-signal paradigm.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1078-1086
    Number of pages9
    JournalAttention, Perception, and Psychophysics
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017


    Dive into the research topics of 'Failures of cognitive control or attention? The case of stop-signal deficits in schizophrenia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this