Cognitive control in adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

Research Area: Research Year: 2011
Type of Publication: Article Keywords: ADHD; Dichotic listening; Cognitive processes; Executive functions; Attentional networks
Authors: Dramsdahl, Margaretha; Westerhausen, Rene; Haavik, Jan; Hugdahl, Kenneth; von Plessen, Kerstin
The objective of the present study was to investigate the ability of adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) to direct their attention and exert cognitive control in a forced instruction dichotic listening (DL) task. The performance of 29 adults with ADHD was compared with 58 matched controls from the Bergen Dichotic Listening Database (N>1500). Participants in the Bergen DL task listen to and report from conflicting consonant-vowel combinations (two different syllables presented simultaneously, one to each ear). They are asked to report the syllable they hear (non-forced condition), or to focus and report either the right- or left-ear syllable (forced-right and forced-left condition). This procedure is presumed to tap distinct cognitive processes: perception (non-forced condition), orienting of attention (forced-right condition), and cognitive control (forced-left condition). Adults with ADHD did not show significant impairment in the conditions tapping perception and attention orientation, but were significantly impaired in their ability to report the left-ear syllable during the forced-left instruction condition, whereas the control group showed the expected left-ear advantage in this condition. This supports the hypothesis of a deficit in cognitive control in the ADHD group, presumably mediated by a deficit in a prefrontal neuronal circuitry. Our results may have implications for psychosocial adjustment for persons with ADHD in educational and work environments.
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