The performance of clinic-referred children aged 6–11 (N = 100) was examined using the Conners' Continuous Performance Test (CPT) and measures of auditory attention (Auditory Continuous Performance Test; ACPT), phonological awareness, visual processing speed, and visual-motor competence. The Conners' CPT overall index was unrelated to measures of visual processing speed or visual-motor competence. Although the Conners' CPT converged with the ACPT, the latter demonstrated age and order effects. Significant variance in Conners' CPT parameters was predicted by phonological awareness measures, suggesting that Reading Disordered (RD) children could be “false positives” on the Conners' CPT. The Conners' CPT overall index, phonological awareness, and visual-motor measures were submitted to a 2×2 MANCOVA (ADHD vs. RD, covarying for age and socieoeconomic status): a main effect for RD status was found. Children with ADHD did not have higher Conners' CPT scores than did clinical controls; however, children with Reading Disorders did. Phonological measures distinguished RD children from ADHD children and other clinical controls. ADHD children who failed the Conners' CPT were rated by teachers as more hyperactive. Despite the strengths of the Conners' CPT, its utility for differential diagnosis of ADHD is questioned.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Achenbach, T. (1991a). Manual for the Child Behavior Checklist/4-18 and 1991 Profile. Burlington, VT: University of Vermont.
Achenbach, T. (1991b). Manual for the Teacher's Report Form/4-18 and 1991 Profile. Burlington, VT: University of Vermont.
Adams, W., & Sheslow, D. (1995). Wide Range Assessment of Visual-Motor Abilities. Wilmington, DE: Wide Range.
August, G., & Garfinkel, B. (1990). Comorbidity of ADHD and reading disability among clinic-referred children. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 18(1), 29-45.
Barkley, R. (1991). The ecological validity of laboratory and analogue assessment methods of ADHD symptoms. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 19(2), 149-178.
Barkley, R., DuPaul, G., & McMurray, M. (1990). Comprehensive evaluation of attention deficit disorder with and without hyperactivity as defined by research criteria. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 58, 775-589.
Barkley, R., Grodzinsky, G., & DuPaul, G. (1992). Frontal lobe functions in attention deficit disorder with and without hyperactivity: A review and research report. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 20, 163-188.
Bedi, G., Halperin, J., & Sharma, V. (1994). Investigation of modalityspecific distractibility in children. International Journal of Neuroscience, 74, 79-85.
Blishen, B. R., Carroll, W. K., & Moore, C. (1987). The 1981 socioeconomic index for occupations in Canada. Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology, 24, 465-488.
Campbell, D., & Fiske, D. (1959). Convergent and discriminant validation by the multi-trait-multimethod matrix Psychological Bulletin, 56, 81-105.
Catts, H. (1989). Defining dyslexia as a developmental language disorder. Annals of Dyslexia, 39, 50-63.
Conners, C. K. (1990). Manual for the Conners' Rating Scales, Toronto: Multi-Health Systems.
Conners, C. K. (1995). Conners' Continuous Performance Test. Toronto: Multi-Health Systems.
Conners, C. K. (1997). Is ADHD a disease? Journal of Attention Disorders, 2(1), 3-17.
Corkum, P., & Siegel, L. (1993). Is the Continuous Performance Task a valuable research tool for use with children with Attention-Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder? Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 34(7), 1217-1239.
Draeger, S., Prior, M., & Sanson, A. (1986). Visual and auditory attention performance in hyperactive children: Competence or compliance? Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 14, 411-424.
Eliason, M., & Richman, L. (1987). The Continuous Performance Test in learning disabled and nondisabled children. Journal of Reading Disabilities, 20(10), 614-619.
Epstein, J., Goldberg, N., Conners, C. K., & March, J. (1997). The effects of anxiety on continuous performance test functioning in an ADHD clinic sample. Journal of Attention Disorders, 2(1), 45-52.
Fischer, M., Newby, R., & Gordon, M. (1995). Who are the false negatives on continuous performance tests? Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 24(4), 427-433.
Halperin, J., Newcorn, J., Sharma, V., Healey, J., Wolf, L., Pascualvaca, D., & Schwartz, S. (1990). Inattentive and noninattentive ADHD children: Do they constitute a unitary group? Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 18(4), 437-449.
Keith, R. (1994). The Auditory Continuous Performance Test. San Antonio, TX: Psychological Corp.
Koelega, H. (1995). Is the continuous performance task useful in research with ADHD children? Comments on a review. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 36(8), 1477-1485.
Koriath, U., Gualtieri, T., Van Bourgondien, M., Quade, D., & Werry, J. (1985). Construct validity of clinical diagnosis in pediatric psychiatry: Relationship among measures. Journal of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry, 242, 429-436.
Kuehne, C., Kehle, T., & McMahon, W. (1987). Differences between children with attention deficit disorder, children with specific reading disabilities, and normal children. Journal of School Psychology, 25, 161-166.
Levy, F., & Hobbes, G. (1979). The influences of social class and sex on sustained attention (vigilance) and motor inhibition in children. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 13, 231-234.
McBride-Chang, C. (1995). What is phonological awareness? Journal of Educational Psychology, 87(2), 179-192.
Phelps, L. (1996). Discriminative validity of the WRAML with ADHD and RD children. Psychology in the Schools, 33, 5-12.
Quay, H. (1997). Inhibition and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 25, 7-13.
Riccio, C., Cohen, M., Hynd, G., & Keith, R. (1996). Validity of the Auditory Continuous Performance Test in differentiating central processing auditory disorders with and without ADHD. Journal of Reading Disabilities, 29(5), 561-566.
Schachar, R., Logan, G., Wachsmuth, R., & Chajczyk, D. (1988). Attaining and maintaining preparation: A comparison of attention in hyperactive, normal, and disturbed control children. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 16(4), 361-378.
Seidel, W., & Joschko, M. (1990). Evidence of difficulties in sustained attention in children with ADHD. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 18, 217-229.
Semrud-Clikeman, M., Biederman, J., Sprich-Buckminster, S, Lehman, B., Farone, S., & Norman, D. (1992). Comorbidity between ADHD and learning disability: A review and report in a clinically referred sample. Journal of American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 31(3), 439-448.
Shapiro, S., & Herod, L. (1994). Combining visual and auditory tasks in the assessment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. In D. Routh (Ed.), Disruptive behavior disorders in childhood (pp. 87-107). New York: Plenum Press.
Tarnowski, K., Prinz, R., & Nay, S. (1986). Comparative analysis of attentional deficits in hyperactive and learning-disabled children. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 95(4), 341-345.
Trommer, B., Hoeppner, J., Lorder, R., & Armstrong, K. (1988). Pitfalls in the use of a continuous performance test as a diagnostic tool in attention deficit disorder. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 9, 339-346.
Wechsler, D. (1991). The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (3rd ed.). San Antonio, TX: Psychological Corporation.
Wechsler, D. (1992). The Wechsler Individual Achievement Test. San Antonio, TX: Psychological Corporation.
Werry, J., Elkind, G., & Reeves, J. (1987). Attention deficit, conduct, oppositional, and anxiety disorders in children: III. Laboratory differences. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 15, 409-428.
Wiederholt, J. L., & Bryant, B. R. (1992). The Gray Oral Reading Test (3rd ed.). Austin, TX: Pro-Ed.
Wilkinson, G. S. (1993). The Wide Range Achievement Test (3rd ed.). Wilmington, DE: Wide Range.
Woodcock, R., & Johnson, M. (1989/1990). Woodcock-Johnson Psychoeducational Battery (Rev.). Chicago, IL: Riverside.
About this article
Cite this article
McGee, R.A., Clark, S.E. & Symons, D.K. Does the Conners' Continuous Performance Test Aid in ADHD Diagnosis?. J Abnorm Child Psychol 28, 415–424 (2000). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1005127504982
- attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
- continuous performance test
- reading disabilities