, Volume 29, Issue 3, pp 215-228

The Ecological Validity of Delay Aversion and Response Inhibition as Measures of Impulsivity in AD/HD: A Supplement to the NIMH Multimodal Treatment Study of AD/HD

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Abstract

Impulsivity is a primary symptom of the combined type of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD). The Stop Signal Paradigm is premised upon a primary deficit in inhibitory control in AD/HD, whereas the Delay Aversion Hypothesis, by contrast, conceptualizes impulsivity in AD/HD, not as an inability to inhibit a response, but rather as a choice to avoid delay. This study compared the ecological validity of the Stop Signal Task (SST) and Choice-Delay Task (C-DT) measure of delay aversion, with respect to their relative utility in discriminating AD/HD children from normal control participants, and their correlations with classroom observations and with ratings of impulsivity and other core AD/HD symptoms on the Conners and SNAP-IV checklists. The tasks exhibited modest discriminant validity when used individually and excellent discriminant validity when used in combination. The C-DT correlated with teacher ratings of impulsivity, hyperactivity, and conduct problems, and with observations of gross motor activity, physical aggression, and an AD/HD composite score. The SST correlated with the observations only. These results suggest that delay aversion is associated with a broad range of AD/HD characteristics whereas inhibitory failure seems to tap a more discrete dimension of executive control