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Cued Go No-Go

The cued go no-go task (Fillmore, 2003) measures impulse control by the ability to inhibit instigated, “prepotent” responses. The task manipulates response prepotency by presenting a preliminary go or no-go cue before the actual go or no-go target is displayed. The cues provide information concerning the probability that a go or no-go target will be presented. The cue-target relationship is manipulated so that the cues have a high probability of correctly signaling a go or no-go target (valid cues), and a low probability of incorrectly signaling a target (invalid cues) (see Figure 1).  Valid cues tend to facilitate response inhibition and speed response execution, whereas invalid cue cues tend to impair response inhibition and slow response execution (Fillmore & Weafer, 2013). Figure 2 presents the sequence of stimulus events for a valid go cue trial: following a fixation, the go cue is presented at one of the five SOAs, signaling the subject to prepare to respond to the expected go target. The go target is then presented, the subject responds by pressing a computer key, and the computer provides feedback regarding accuracy and speed of the response (Fillmore & Weafer, 2013). In this condition, the valid go cue allows the subject to prepare to respond to the go target so that reaction time to the go target is hastened. Figure 3 illustrates the sequence of stimulus events for an invalid go cue trial: following a fixation, the go cue is presented so that the subject prepares to respond to the expected go target. When the no-go target appears the subject often fails to inhibit the response, and incorrectly responds to the no-go target. This is the critical trial condition that is used to assess the subject’s inhibitory control over a prepotent response. Poor inhibitory control is evident by more failures to inhibit responses in this condition. A test presents 250 trials and requires 15 minutes to complete.

Cued Gonogo 1b Graph

Figure 1.

Cue-target combination probabilities on the cued go/no go task. Left panel: go cue precede go target (green box) on 80% of trials (valid go cue condition) and no-go targets (blue boxes) on 20% of trials (invalid go cue condition). Inhibitory failures are most common in the invalid go cue condition. Right panel: no- go cues precede a no-go target (blue boxes) on 80% of trials (valid no-go cue condition) and go targets (green boxes) on 20% of trials (invalid no-go cue condition) 

Cued-Gonogo 2b Graph

Figure 2.

Schematic of the trial procedure in the valid go cue condition.

Cued Gonogo 3b Graph

Figure 3.

Schematic of the trial procedure in the invalid go cue condition.

     Cued Go No-Go instrument reference:
     Drug abuse as a problem of impaired control: current approaches and findings.
     Fillmore MT (2003)
     Behavioral & Cognitive Neuroscience Reviews, 2, 179-197.  PubMed ID 15006292


Some evidence for the validity of the cued go no-go task as a measure of impulse control comes from its use in assessing clinical populations of children and young adults with ADHD. In addition to attentional deficits, ADHD is characterized by impulsivity. As such, these individuals should display poorer inhibitory control compared with control samples. Indeed, studies using the cued go no-go task find that those with ADHD typically display more commission errors and slower response inhibition compared with controls (Derefinko et al. 2008; Roberts, Milich, & Fillmore, in press Weafer, Fillmore, & Milich, 2009).
The task has also been useful in detecting impulsivity in substance abusers. Studies have shown that cocaine users are slower to learn to associate no-go cues with response inhibition on a cued go/no-go task (Fillmore & Rush 2006). Studies also have used the cued go no-go task to examine the acute effects of drugs on the intentional inhibition of actions. Probability of failing to inhibit responses to no-go targets increased as a function of alcohol dose (Marczinski & Fillmore, 2003). Findings also show that orally-administered doses of cocaine HCl (50 mg – 150 mg) and d-amphetamine (5 mg – 20 mg) produced slight impairments of inhibitory control in stimulant abusers, as evidenced by a decreased ability to inhibit responses on go/no-go tasks and similar tasks, such as the stop-signal task (Fillmore et al. 2002; Fillmore et al. 2003).
In conclusion, the cued go/no go task has been a useful measure of impulse control in clinical and substance abusing populations.


Response style differences in the inattentive and combined subtypes of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder
Derefinko KJ, Adams ZW, Milich R, Fillmore MT, Lorch EP, Lynam DR. (2008).
Journal of Abnormal and Child Psychology, 36, 745-758.     PMID: 18175214
Drug abuse as a problem of impaired control: current approaches and findings
Fillmore MT (2003).
Behavioral & Cognitive Neuroscience Reviews, 2, 179-197. PubMed ID 15006292
Polydrug abusers display impaired discrimination-reversal learning in a model of behavioural control
Fillmore MT, Rush CR (2006).
Journal of Psychopharmacology, 20, 24-32.     PMID: 16174667
Acute effects of oral cocaine on inhibitory control of behavior in humans
Fillmore MT, Rush CR, Hays L (2002).
Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 67, 157-167.     PMID: 12095665
Effects of d-amphetamine on behavioral control in stimulant abusers: the role of prepotent response tendencies
Fillmore MT, Rush CR, Marczinski CA (2003).
Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 71, 143-152.     PMID: 12927652
Behavioral inhibition and addiction (pp 135-164)
Fillmore, MT, Weafer, J (2013).
In: MacKillop, J, de Wit, H (eds) The Wiley-Blackwell Handbook of Addiction Psychopharmacology Wiley-Blackwell, United Kingdom.
Impaired inhibitory control as a mechanism of drug addiction (pp 85-100)
Fillmore, MT, Weafer, J (2011).
In: Bardo M, Fishbein D, Milich R (eds) Inhibitory Control and Drug Abuse Prevention: From Research to Translation
Springer Publishing, New York

Preresponse cues reduce the impairing effects of alcohol on the execution and suppression of responses

Marczinski CA, Fillmore MT (2003).
Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, 11, 110-117.      PMID: 12622349

Separating automatic and intentional inhibitory mechanisms of attention in adults with Attention-Deficit/Hperactivity Disorder
Roberts W, Fillmore MT, Milich R (2011).
Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 120, 223-233.      PMID: 21058752
Behavioral components of impulsivity predict alcohol consumption in adults with ADHD and healthy controls
Weafer J, Milich R, Fillmore MT (2011).
Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 113, 139-146.      PMID: 20863628


Material presented here was created by Dr. Mark T. Fillmore and shared with the International Society for Research on Impulsivity in 2013.
For more information or to obtain this instrument, please contact Dr. Fillmore at: