Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 41, Issue 3, pp 473–483 | Cite as

Reading Comprehension in Children with ADHD: Cognitive Underpinnings of the Centrality Deficit

  • Amanda C. MillerEmail author
  • Janice M. Keenan
  • Rebecca S. Betjemann
  • Erik G. Willcutt
  • Bruce F. Pennington
  • Richard K. Olson


We examined reading comprehension in children with ADHD by assessing their ability to build a coherent mental representation that allows them to recall central and peripheral information. We compared children with ADHD (mean age 9.78) to word reading-matched controls (mean age 9.89) on their ability to retell a passage. We found that even though children with ADHD recalled more central than peripheral information, they showed their greatest deficit, relative to controls, on central information—a centrality deficit (Miller and Keenan, Annals of Dyslexia 59:99–113, 2009). We explored the cognitive underpinnings of this deficit using regressions to compare how well cognitive factors (working memory, inhibition, processing speed, and IQ) predicted the ability to recall central information, after controlling for word reading ability, and whether these cognitive factors interacted with ADHD symptoms. Working memory accounted for the most unique variance. Although previous evidence for reading comprehension difficulties in children with ADHD have been mixed, this study suggests that even when word reading ability is controlled, children with ADHD have difficulty building a coherent mental representation, and this difficulty is likely related to deficits in working memory.


ADHD Reading Comprehension Working Memory Inhibition Processing Speed 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amanda C. Miller
    • 1
    Email author
  • Janice M. Keenan
    • 2
  • Rebecca S. Betjemann
    • 3
  • Erik G. Willcutt
    • 4
  • Bruce F. Pennington
    • 2
  • Richard K. Olson
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.Vanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA
  2. 2.University of DenverDenverUSA
  3. 3.Regis UniversityDenverUSA
  4. 4.University of Colorado, BoulderBoulderUSA
  5. 5.Linköping UniversityLinköpingSweden

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