Adaptive Tracking

Adaptive Tracking

Background Information

Adaptive tracking

In this test, a circle is moving randomly across the screen. The subject must keep a spot inside this moving circle using an analogue input device. When the spot is inside the circle, the velocity of the circle is incrementally increasing to make the task more difficult. When the subject does not succeed in keeping the cursor inside of the circle, the velocity is incrementally decreasing until the cursor is again inside of the circle.

This adaptive pursuit tracking task has been originally published by Borland and Nicholson and has shown sensitivity in various clinical trials and validation studies. The motion of the circle is generated using a random signal with a specified maximum amplitude. In this version of the adaptive tracking task, the velocity can be either modulated by changing the maximum amplitude and/or applying a low-pass filter with changing frequencies.

Since the adaptive tracking task is adjusting to individual levels of task proficiency, each subject is automatically challenged at the same level. The dependent variable is the average task complexity measured on a scale of 0 and 1. A value of 1 corresponds to maximum amplitude of the signal and highest frequency of the low-pass filter. A value of 0 to bottom levels of amplitude and frequency. These settings, as well as task duration can be configured.


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Borland, R. G., Nicholson, A. N. Visual motor co-ordination and dynamic visual acuity. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 18, Suppl 1. 69S-72S (1984).

Nicholson, A.N. Performance Studies with Diazepam and its Hydroxylated Metabolites. Br J Clin Pharamcol. 8, 39-42 (1979)

Van steveninck AL, Schoemaker HC, Pieters MS, Kroon R, Breimer DD, Cohen AF. A comparison of the sensitivities of adaptive tracking, eye movement analysis and visual analog lines to the effects of incremental doses of temazepam in healthy volunteers. Clin Pharmacol Ther. 1991;50(2):172-80.