Motor Timing as a Predictor of Attention, Working Memory and Impulsivity in Alcohol and/or Cocaine Use Disorders

S.Y. Young, J.J.M. Van Hoof, M. Kidd, S. Seedat

Research output: Contribution to JournalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


© 2020 by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands.In recent years, there has been a growing interest in neuropsychological deficits in patients with Cocaine Use Disorder (CUD) and Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). Besides deficits in working memory (WM), impulsivity and attention, chronic alcohol and cocaine use have neurotoxic effects on frontostriatal areas in the brain. Individuals with deficits in these brain regions experience motor-Timing deficits. It is unclear whether observed temporal processing deficits, in fact, reflect increased sustained attention or WM demands (which are required by timing tasks), or whether motor-Timing deficits reflect some other process. The main questions of this were: (i) Can attention and WM be explained by motor-Timing performance, and (ii), is impulsivity related to motor timing performance, in an inpatient SUD population? The study sample consisted of 74 abstinent patients who completed selected neuropsychological and motor-Timing tasks. No significant correlation was found between performance on motor tasks and impulsivity. With regard to visual and auditory WM, motor timing was a significant predictor but only under conditions that required increased cognitive demands. Motor-Timing performance contributed to a small portion of the variance in attention, but only for spatial abilities and only at increased cognitive demands. These preliminary findings suggest that, in line with the literature, millisecond timing engages other cognitive functions, but only minimally. As such motor timing should be regarded as a separate neurocognitive concomitant. Impulsivity was not associated with millisecond motor timing. More research is needed to further investigate these preliminary findings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)192-216
JournalTiming and Time Perception
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes


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