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Information Sampling Task (IST)

The Information Sampling Task tests impulsivity and decision making.

Administration time

Up to 15 minutes

Task format

The participant is presented with a 5x5 array of grey boxes on the screen and two larger coloured panels below these boxes. The participant is instructed that they are playing a game for points, which they can win by making a correct decision about which colour is in the majority under the grey boxes.

They must select the grey boxes one at a time, these then open up to reveal one of the two colours shown at the bottom of the screen. Once a box has been selected, it remains open. When the participant has made their decision about which colour is in the majority, they must select the panel of that colour at the bottom of the screen to indicate their choice.

After the participant has indicated their choice, all the remaining grey boxes on the screen reveal their colours and a message is displayed to state whether or not they were correct. The colours change from trial to trial. At the end of a trial the grey boxes are displayed on the screen again. The speed at which they are displayed depends on how fast the trial was completed, so that there is always at least 30 seconds between trials.

There are two conditions – the fixed win condition, in which the subject is awarded 100 points for a correct decision regardless of the number of boxes opened and the decreasing win condition, in which the number of points that can be won for a correct decision starts at 250 and decreases by 10 points for every box selected. In both conditions, an incorrect decision costs 100 points.

Outcome measures

The outcome measures include errors, latency (speed of response), total correct trials, mean number of boxes opened per trial and probability of the participant's decision being correct based on the available evidence at the time of the decision.

Normative data 

Please contact us to discuss your normative data requirements. Please note, we do not recommend using normative data in place of a control group. 

Information Sampling Task (IST)

Information Sampling Task (IST)



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