Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 38, Issue 2, pp 149–161 | Cite as

ADHD and Working Memory: The Impact of Central Executive Deficits and Exceeding Storage/Rehearsal Capacity on Observed Inattentive Behavior

  • Michael J. Kofler
  • Mark D. RapportEmail author
  • Jennifer Bolden
  • Dustin E. Sarver
  • Joseph S. Raiker


Inattentive behavior is considered a core and pervasive feature of ADHD; however, an alternative model challenges this premise and hypothesizes a functional relationship between working memory deficits and inattentive behavior. The current study investigated whether inattentive behavior in children with ADHD is functionally related to the domain-general central executive and/or subsidiary storage/rehearsal components of working memory. Objective observations of children’s attentive behavior by independent observers were conducted while children with ADHD (n = 15) and typically developing children (n = 14) completed counterbalanced tasks that differentially manipulated central executive, phonological storage/rehearsal, and visuospatial storage/rehearsal demands. Results of latent variable and effect size confidence interval analyses revealed two conditions that completely accounted for the attentive behavior deficits in children with ADHD: (a) placing demands on central executive processing, the effect of which is evident under even low cognitive loads, and (b) exceeding storage/rehearsal capacity, which has similar effects on children with ADHD and typically developing children but occurs at lower cognitive loads for children with ADHD.


ADHD Working memory Attention Central executive 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael J. Kofler
    • 1
  • Mark D. Rapport
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jennifer Bolden
    • 1
  • Dustin E. Sarver
    • 1
  • Joseph S. Raiker
    • 1
  1. 1.Children’s Learning Clinic-IV, Department of PsychologyUniversity of Central FloridaOrlandoUSA

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