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Automatic Processing of Duration in Children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 March 2013

Hilary Gomes
Department of Psychology, City College, New York, New York Department of Psychology, The Graduate Center of the City University of New York, New York, New York Department of Psychology, Queens College, Flushing, New York
Martin Duff
Department of Psychology, City College, New York, New York Department of Psychology, The Graduate Center of the City University of New York, New York, New York
Adrianne Flores
Department of Psychology, Queens College, Flushing, New York
Jeffrey M. Halperin
Department of Psychology, The Graduate Center of the City University of New York, New York, New York Department of Psychology, Queens College, Flushing, New York
E-mail address:


Individuals with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) often exhibit deficits in processing information about time. Most studies, however, have required participants to perform active tasks and consequently it is unclear if performance deficits are due to impaired processing of temporal information, attentional deficits, or to impairments at a later stage of decision-making. This study used mismatch negativity (MMN) to examine automatic processing of temporal information in children with ADHD. The sample consisted of 11 children with typical development (8 boys; mean age/SD = 9.3/0.6 years) and 12 with ADHD (10 boys; mean age/SD = 8.9/0.8 years). Using the MMN paradigm, responses to standards and four deviants (hard/easy frequency, hard/easy duration) were elicited during the same sequence. The children's ability to actively discriminate each deviant was also assessed. Both groups exhibited MMNs to all deviants suggesting successful automatic discrimination. Furthermore, amplitude and latency measures were roughly comparable across groups. No group differences were seen on the active discrimination task, but performance was worse for duration than for frequency deviants. These results suggest that children with ADHD are able to automatically process temporal information, so deficits reported in active discrimination paradigms are likely due to deficits in subjective perception or usage of temporal information. (JINS, 2013, 19, 1–9)

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