The Role of Attention and Executive Function in Iowa Gambling Task Performance

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


Psychology and Special Education

Date of Award

Spring 2012


This study examined the role of attention and executive functions in performance on the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT). Experiment 1 examined the relationship between certain executive functions (i.e., inhibition and switching) and performance on the IGT, both as a total performance score and scores across the various blocks of the task. Inhibition (i.e., performance on an antiscaade task) correlated only with blocks 1 and 2. However, switching (i.e., the difference in proportion correct between switch and no-switch conditions) did not correlate with any block of the IGT or with total performance. In contrast, the switch cost (i.e. the difference in response time between switch and no-switch conditions) correlated with total performance. Experiment 2 expanded on the findings from Experiment 1 by examining the effects of disrupting attentional focus and executive functions on IGT performance. The results revealed that both a number monitoring task and a random number generation task disrupted performance on the IGT. These findings indicate that attentional and executive function resources must be intact for successful IGT performance.


Karin Tochkov

Subject Categories

Education | Educational Psychology