Working Memory Deficits in Boys with Attention-deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): The Contribution of Central Executive and Subsystem Processes
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The current study investigated contradictory findings from recent experimental and meta-analytic studies concerning working memory deficits in ADHD. Working memory refers to the cognitive ability to temporarily store and mentally manipulate limited amounts of information for use in guiding behavior. Phonological (verbal) and visuospatial (nonverbal) working memory were assessed across four memory load conditions in 23 boys (12 ADHD, 11 typically developing) using tasks based on Baddeley’s (Working memory, thought, and action, Oxford University Press, New York, 2007) working memory model. The model posits separate phonological and visuospatial storage and rehearsal components that are controlled by a single attentional controller (CE: central executive). A latent variable approach was used to partial task performance related to three variables of interest: phonological buffer/rehearsal loop, visuospatial buffer/rehearsal loop, and the CE attentional controller. ADHD-related working memory deficits were apparent across all three cognitive systems—with the largest magnitude of deficits apparent in the CE—even after controlling for reading speed, nonverbal visual encoding, age, IQ, and SES.