Send to

Choose Destination
Cogn Emot. 2011 Feb;25(2):307-27. doi: 10.1080/02699931.2010.494387.

Cognitive-emotional dysfunction among noisy minds: predictions from individual differences in reaction time variability.

Author information

Psychology Department, North Dakota State University, PO Box 6050, Fargo, ND 58108-6050, USA.


Mental noise can be defined as less reliable information processing. Individuals with high levels of mental noise are thought to be disadvantaged in cognitive, emotional, and behavioural realms. The present five studies (total N=298) investigated such potential disadvantages among normally functioning college undergraduates. Mental noise was operationalised in terms of the reaction time coefficient of variation (RTCV), a measure of RT variability that corrects for average levels of mental speed. Individuals with higher RTCV exhibited less effective cognitive control (Studies 1 and 5), less controlled behaviour (Study 2), and were more prone to negative emotional experiences (Study 3) and depressive symptoms (Study 4). Study 5 extended these results and found that individuals higher (versus lower) in RTCV were more adversely affected by their attentional lapses in daily life. Results converge on the idea that mental noise is an important individual difference dimension with multiple adverse correlates and consequences.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Taylor & Francis
Loading ...
Support Center