Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 333–345 | Cite as

Automatic and effortful processing in Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

  • Breck Borcherding
  • Karen Thompson
  • Markus Kruesi
  • John Bartko
  • Judith L. Rapoport
  • Herbert Weingartner


Twenty-five boys with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and 23 age-matched controls were compared on verbal memory tasks differentiating automatic versus effortful information processing. Automatic processing tasks included the recognition of new or old words in a list and the recognition of frequency of occurrence of words in a list. Effortful tasks included free recall of lists of both related and unrelated words. Hyperactive boys did not differ from controls in automatic processing capabilities but demonstrated significantly poorer effortful processing. Intercorrelations of the variables revealed high correlations between scores on effortful measures and also raise questions about the purity of automaticity in some tasks employed. Stepwise discriminant analysis demonstrated that free recall of related words (an effortful task) best discriminated between groups. Effort-related processing in hyperactive and normal children is discussed in relation to variables of motivation, affect, arousal, and other higher-order cognitive processes.


Discriminant Analysis Memory Task Free Recall Automatic Processing Verbal Memory 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Breck Borcherding
    • 1
  • Karen Thompson
    • 2
  • Markus Kruesi
    • 1
  • John Bartko
    • 3
  • Judith L. Rapoport
    • 1
  • Herbert Weingartner
    • 4
  1. 1.Child Psychiatry BranchNational Institute of Mental HealthBethesda
  2. 2.Laboratory of Clinical ScienceNational Institute of Mental HealthBethesda
  3. 3.Division of Biometry and Applied SciencesNational Institute of Mental HealthBethesda
  4. 4.Psychology DepartmentThe George Washington UniversityWashington, D.C

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