ERIC Number: EJ874834
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Apr
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
What Does Distractibility in ADHD Reveal about Mechanisms for Top-Down Attentional Control?
Friedman-Hill, Stacia R.; Wagman, Meryl R.; Gex, Saskia E.; Pine, Daniel S.; Leibenluft, Ellen; Ungerleider, Leslie G.
Cognition, v115 n1 p93-103 Apr 2010
In this study, we attempted to clarify whether distractibility in ADHD might arise from increased sensory-driven interference or from inefficient top-down control. We employed an attentional filtering paradigm in which discrimination difficulty and distractor salience (amount of image "graying") were parametrically manipulated. Increased discrimination difficulty should add to the load of top-down processes, whereas increased distractor salience should produce stronger sensory interference. We found an unexpected interaction of discrimination difficulty and distractor salience. For difficult discriminations, ADHD children filtered distractors as efficiently as healthy children and adults; as expected, all three groups were slower to respond with high vs. low salience distractors. In contrast, for easy discriminations, robust between-group differences emerged: ADHD children were much slower and made more errors than either healthy children or adults. For easy discriminations, healthy children and adults filtered out high salience distractors as easily as low salience distractors, but ADHD children were slower to respond on trials with low salience distractors than they did on trials with high salience distractors. These initial results from a small sample of ADHD children have implications for models of attentional control, and ways in which it can malfunction. The fact that ADHD children exhibited efficient attentional filtering when task demands were high, but showed deficient and atypical distractor filtering under low task demands suggests that attention deficits in ADHD may stem from a failure to efficiently engage top-down control rather than an inability to implement filtering in sensory processing regions. (Contains 1 table and 4 figures.)
Descriptors: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Cognitive Processes, Children, Error Patterns, Task Analysis, Sensory Integration, Brain Hemisphere Functions
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A