Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) patients have both working memory (WM) and attention problems. Good attention skills are important for WM performance; individuals have higher WM capacity when being able to prevent storage of irrelevant information through efficient filtering. Since it is unknown how filtering ability is associated with WM performance in ADHD, this was investigated in the present study. A visuospatial working memory (VSWM) change detection task with distracting stimuli was administered to adolescents (12-16 years old) and adults (20-46 years old) with and without ADHD matched on education/IQ. Besides performance, contralateral delay activity (CDA) was measured; a neural correlate of the number of targets and distracters encoded and maintained in WM during the retention interval. Performance data showed similar WM-load, WM-distracter interference and developmental effects in ADHD and control groups. Adolescents' performance on the WM task deteriorated more than that of adults in the presence of distracters and with higher WM-load, irrespective of Diagnosis. The CDA data suggested that initially all groups encoded/maintained distracting information, but only adults were able to bounce this information from memory later in the retention interval, leading to better WM performance. The only effect of Diagnosis was a smaller CDA in adolescents and adults with ADHD than in age/IQ-matched controls when maintaining a low 1-item load, which was possibly related to an inability to keep attention focused at cued stimuli with low task demands. Overall, the development of filtering efficiency and VSWM storage capacity in adolescents with ADHD was not different from that in typically developing peers.
- ATTENTION-DEFICIT/HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER
- SELECTIVE ATTENTION
- IRRELEVANT INFORMATION
- DEFAULT NETWORK
- NEURAL MEASURES