The Attention Span Test: A Deep Dive

In a world saturated with information, understanding our attention span is more crucial than ever. But what is attention span, and why does it matter?

What is the Attention Span Test?

Attention span refers to the length of time an individual can concentrate on a task without becoming distracted. It plays a fundamental role in our ability to learn, complete tasks, and function efficiently in daily life.

The Attention Span Test is a widely used cognitive assessment tool designed to measure an individual's focus duration. Typically, it presents participants with a series of stimuli and measures their ability to sustain concentration, often by identifying specific targets amongst distractors.

History of the Test

The concept of attention span has been studied for well over a century. The Attention Span Test, as we recognize it today, has its roots in the early 20th century when psychologists began to delve deeper into cognitive processes and the factors that influence them. With advancements in neuroscience and technology, the test has evolved and adapted, resulting in several variants tailored to specific populations and research needs.

Relevance in Today's World

The importance of understanding attention span cannot be overstated. In educational settings, it informs teaching methods and aids in the diagnosis of attention-related disorders. In the workplace, it provides insights into employee efficiency and potential training needs. With the surge of digital platforms, researchers are also keen to understand how modern technology influences our attention span.

Furthermore, in an age of constant digital stimulation and multitasking, there's an increasing concern that our collective attention span might be shortening. Hence, tools like the Attention Span Test provide valuable insights into our cognitive well-being.

Try the Test for Yourself!

Want to get a sense of your attention span? Below is an interactive version of the Attention Span Test. Give it a try!

Source Code for the Go/NoGo Demo

var timeline = [];

// Instruction trial
var instructions = {
    type: 'html-keyboard-response',
    stimulus: '<p>You will see a series of numbers.</p>' +
              '<p>Press the <strong>space bar</strong> only when you see the number <strong>5</strong>.</p>' +
              '<p>Press any key to begin.</p>',

// Attention span task
var numbers = [1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9];
var attention_span_stimuli = [];

for(var i = 0; i < 25; i++){
    var number = jsPsych.randomization.sampleWithoutReplacement(numbers, 1)[0];
    var is_target = number == 5;
        stimulus: number.toString(),
        is_target: is_target

var attention_span_trial = {
    type: 'html-keyboard-response',
    stimulus: function() { return '<span style="font-size: 40px">' + jsPsych.timelineVariable('stimulus') + '</span>'},
    trial_duration: 1000,
    on_finish: function(data){
        var is_target = jsPsych.timelineVariable('is_target');
        data.correct = (is_target && data.response == ' ' ) || (!is_target && data.response == null);
    post_trial_gap: 500

    timeline: [attention_span_trial],
    timeline_variables: attention_span_stimuli

// Debrief
var debrief = {
    type: 'html-keyboard-response',
    stimulus: function(){
        var correct_trials ={correct: true}).count();
        var total_trials =;
        var accuracy = Math.round(correct_trials / total_trials * 100);
        return '<p>You responded correctly on ' + accuracy + '% of the trials.</p>' +
               '<p>Press any key to complete the experiment.</p>';

// Initialize jsPsych
    timeline: timeline,
    on_finish: function(){
        // You can add code here to save the data or display additional information;

Behind the Scenes: The Technology

The demo above was created using the jsPsych library—a powerful tool for building behavioral experiments in a web browser. This library provides a flexible framework for designing a wide variety of cognitive tests, making it a favorite among researchers and educators.

What's even more exciting is that this demo is hosted using Cognition. Cognition offers a seamless platform to create, run, and manage online experiments, relieving users of the complexities related to web hosting, data storage, and security.

Take the Next Step with Cognition

Inspired by what you've seen? Ready to dive into the world of online experiments? With Cognition, you can run and share your experiments online effortlessly. Whether you're a seasoned researcher or just curious about cognitive tests, Cognition is here to simplify the journey.