Author(s): Rovet JF, Hepworth SL
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Abstract Recent studies suggest that children with different etiologies of attention disorder also differ as to the types of errors they make on attention tasks. Because these errors are reflective of the core deficits underlying their attention problems, we sought to compare error patterns in children with different attention disorders. Studied were 144 children aged 7-12 years, 43 with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), 35 with congenital hypothyroidism (CH), and 68 controls. Two variations of the continuous performance task (CPT) that differed in demands on inhibitory control and memory were used. One variation, the CPT:A-not-X task, required subjects to observe a continuous stream of letters shown at different rates on the computer screen and respond to all stimuli except "X". The other variation, the CPT:AX task, required them to respond whenever a specified combination of letter such as "A" followed by "X" appeared on the screen. On the CPT:A-not-X task, children with ADHD differed from controls in commission errors, signifying difficulty with inhibitory control, whereas children with CH differed in perceptual sensitivity or signal detection. Although the CH and ADHD groups both performed more poorly than controls on the CPT:AX task, children with CH made more errors to the first stimulus item, suggesting a problem holding information in memory, whereas children with ADHD made more errors to the second item, suggesting impulsivity. These results therefore signify the utility of these tasks in identifying the different mechanisms underlying the specific attention deficits of different groups of children.
This article was published in J Child Psychol Psychiatry
and referenced in Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy