Child Psychiatry & Human Development

, Volume 51, Issue 1, pp 127–137 | Cite as

Increased Working Memory Load in a Dual-Task Design Impairs Nonverbal Social Encoding in Children with High and Low Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Symptoms

  • Dane C. HiltonEmail author
  • Matthew A. Jarrett
  • Ana T. Rondon
  • Josh Tutek
  • Mazheruddin M. Mulla
Original Article


Children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are known to have difficulty with peer relations, though the mechanisms by which these children struggle with interpersonal relationships are not well known. The current study examined the relation between working memory (WM) and the encoding of nonverbal social cues using a dual-task paradigm tested in children with High and Low ADHD symptoms. A total of 40 children were recruited (20 High ADHD; 20 Low ADHD) and completed computerized tasks of social encoding and WM in both single- and dual-task conditions. A series of repeated measures mixed-model ANOVAs revealed that both children with High ADHD and Low ADHD performed significantly worse during the dual-task condition compared to the single task conditions. Also, children with High ADHD had significantly lower performance than Low ADHD children on task-based social encoding and WM. This study supports the role of WM in nonverbal social encoding in children.


ADHD Social encoding Dual-task methodology Social problems 



This study was not funded by any outside source or agency.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dane C. Hilton
    • 1
    Email author
  • Matthew A. Jarrett
    • 2
  • Ana T. Rondon
    • 2
  • Josh Tutek
    • 2
  • Mazheruddin M. Mulla
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyRoanoke CollegeSalemUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyThe University of AlabamaTuscaloosaUSA

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