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Working memory in school-aged children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder combined type: Are deficits modality specific and are they independent of impaired inhibitory control?
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
2008 (English)In: Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, ISSN 1380-3395, E-ISSN 1744-411X, Vol. 30, no 7, 749-759 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study examines differences between children with attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder combined type (ADHD-C) and normal controls on verbal and visuospatial working-memory (WM) tasks. The extent to which WM deficits in children with ADHD-C are independent of impaired inhibitory control was also examined. Two groups of 7- to 12-year-old boys participated in this study. The first group included 31 boys diagnosed with ADHD-C, and the second group included 34 boys without ADHD. Various verbal and visuospatial WM tasks and two inhibitory control tasksprepotent response inhibition and interference controlwere used. Overall, our results suggest impaired verbal and visuospatial WM processes in children with ADHD-C, as well as a lower level of performance on prepotent response inhibition. WM deficits in ADHD have previously been suggested to be particularly salient in the spatial domain, our results instead showed the largest effect for a verbal WM task thought to put heavy load on the executive or attentional control component of the WM system. An interpretation of this finding is that it is variation in terms of difficulty level or load on the executive WM processes, rather than variation in modality (verbal versus visuospatial), that is important in demonstrating WM deficits in ADHD-C. Finally, findings from logistic regression analyses showed that deficits in WM and inhibitory control seem to be semi-independent in children with ADHD-C, at least with regard to the elementary school age.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2008. Vol. 30, no 7, 749-759 p.
Keyword [en]
ADHD, executive functions, inhibitory control, neuropsychological deficits, working memory
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-95699DOI: 10.1080/13803390701754720ISI: 000258978400002PubMedID: 18608645OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-95699DiVA: diva2:170011
Available from: 2007-04-11 Created: 2007-04-11 Last updated: 2014-12-12Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Executive Control Processes: Dimensions, Development and ADHD
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Executive Control Processes: Dimensions, Development and ADHD
2007 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Deficits in higher order cognitive processes such as inhibitory control and working memory (WM), grouped under the term of executive function (EF), have been shown to constitute one important component of the complex neuropsychology of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The aim of the present thesis was to examine EF in relation to ADHD, with primary focus on structure (i.e., dimensions) and developmental change. Rooted in the developmental and dimensional perspectives of ADHD, which propose that the disorder represents the extreme of or quantitative delays in traits that are present throughout the general population, four studies (I-IV) based on non-clinical and clinical samples of children at different developmental levels were conducted.

Together, the results from Study I-IV suggest that inhibitory control and WM are important components of EF in typically developing children as well as in relation to ADHD symptoms. Of particular interest are the findings from Study II, III, and IV, showing that inhibitory control and WM seem to be of different importance depending on the child’s age. More specifically, the non-clinical and clinical studies suggest that inhibitory control and WM are important in predicting ADHD symptoms, with deficits in inhibitory control primarily being associated with ADHD symptoms for preschool and younger elementary school-aged children, whereas deficits in WM are associated with ADHD symptoms for older elementary school-aged children.

In conclusion, the results of the present thesis are consistent with Barkley’s (1997) developmental prediction concerning the relation between EF and ADHD, which suggests that impaired inhibitory control is an early developmental precursor to or a factor that “sets the stage” for deficits in more complex EFs such as WM. The home taking message from the present thesis is that age matters not only in the behavioral, but also in the neuropsychological manifestation of ADHD. To our knowledge, these findings are among the first to show that age is an important factor that should be taken into account in future ADHD research, theory, and treatment.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2007. 79 p.
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Social Sciences, ISSN 1652-9030 ; 27
Psychology, Executive function, development, ADHD, inhibitory control, working memory, Psykologi
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-7788 (URN)978-91-554-6853-8 (ISBN)
Public defence
2007-05-03, Auditoriet, Gustavianum, Akademigatan 73, Uppsala, 09:00
Available from: 2007-04-11 Created: 2007-04-11Bibliographically approved

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