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Children with ADHD symptoms show deficits in reactive but not proactive inhibition, irrespective of their formal diagnosis

  • Branko M. van Hulst (a1), Patrick de Zeeuw (a1), Chantal Vlaskamp (a1), Yvonne Rijks (a1), Bram B. Zandbelt (a2) and Sarah Durston (a1)...

Abstract

Background

Attenuated inhibitory control is one of the most robust findings in the neuropsychology of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). However, it is unclear whether this represents a deficit in outright stopping (reactive inhibition), whether it relates to a deficit in anticipatory response slowing (proactive inhibition), or both. In addition, children with other development disorders, such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), often have symptoms of inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity similar to children with ADHD. These may relate to similar underlying changes in inhibitory processing.

Methods

In this study, we used a modified stop-signal task to dissociate reactive and proactive inhibition. We included not only children with ADHD, but also children primarily diagnosed with an ASD and high parent-rated levels of ADHD symptoms.

Results

We replicated the well-documented finding of attenuated reactive inhibition in children with ADHD. In addition, we found a similar deficit in children with ASD and a similar level of ADHD symptoms. In contrast, we found no evidence for deficits in proactive inhibition in either clinical group.

Conclusions

These findings re-emphasize the role of reactive inhibition in children with ADHD and ADHD symptoms. Moreover, our findings stress the importance of a trans-diagnostic approach to the relationship between behavior and neuropsychology.

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Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the same Creative Commons licence is included and the original work is properly cited. The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use.

Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: Branko M. van Hulst, E-mail: b.vanhulst@umcutrecht.nl

References

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Table S1

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Children with ADHD symptoms show deficits in reactive but not proactive inhibition, irrespective of their formal diagnosis

  • Branko M. van Hulst (a1), Patrick de Zeeuw (a1), Chantal Vlaskamp (a1), Yvonne Rijks (a1), Bram B. Zandbelt (a2) and Sarah Durston (a1)...

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