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Are planning working memory and inhibition associated with individual differences in preschool ADHD symptoms?

By Edmund J.S. Sonuga-Barke, Lindy Dalen, Dave Daley and Bob Remington

Abstract

The association between executive function (EF; planning, working memory, and inhibition) and individual differences in symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) was explored in a sample of preschool children. <br/>One hundred sixty children (between the ages of 3 years, 0 months and 5 years, 6 months), selected so as to oversample high ADHD scorers, performed 3 tasks previously shown to measure planning (Tower of London), working memory (Noisy Book) and inhibition ("Puppet Says..."). EF measures were reliable (k &gt; .77) and were correlated with IQ (rs &gt; .38) and age (rs &gt; .59). Once IQ and age were controlled, planning and working memory (r = .41) were correlated. <br/>Planning and working memory were not correlated with inhibition (rs &lt; .20). There was no association between ADHD and working memory or planning (rs &lt; .12). There was a significant negative association between ADHD and conduct problems and inhibition (r = -.30 and r = -.25, respectively). Only the link with ADHD persisted after the effects of other factors were controlled for in a multiple regression. Specific deficits in inhibitory control rather than general EF deficits are associated with ADHD in the preschool period. <br/>This association is linear in nature, supporting the idea that ADHD is better seen as a continuum rather than a discrete category. This association provides evidence for Barkley's (1997) view that ADHD is underpinned by inhibitory deficits in the preschool period

Topics: RC0321, BF, RJ101
Year: 2002
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.soton.ac.uk:18275
Provided by: e-Prints Soton
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