ADHD and Working Memory: The Impact of Central Executive Deficits and Exceeding Storage/Rehearsal Capacity on Observed Inattentive Behavior
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- Kofler, M.J., Rapport, M.D., Bolden, J. et al. J Abnorm Child Psychol (2010) 38: 149. doi:10.1007/s10802-009-9357-6
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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.