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Executive functions and, in particular, Attentional (active) Working Memory (WM) have been associated with fluid intelligence. The association contrasts with the hypothesis that children with ADHD exhibit problems with WM tasks requiring controlled attention and may have a good fluid intelligence. This paper examines whether children who are intelligent but present ADHD symptoms fail in attentional WM tasks. The latter result would be problematic for theories assuming the generality of a strict relationship between intelligence and WM. To study these issues, a battery of tests was administered to a group of 58 children who all displayed symptoms of ADHD. All children were between the age of 8 and 11 years, and were described by their teachers as smart. Children were compared to a control group matched for age, schooling, and gender. The battery included a test of fluid intelligence (Raven’s Coloured Matrices), and a series of visuospatial WM tasks. Results showed that children with ADHD were high in intelligence but significantly lower than the controls in WM tasks requiring high attentional control, whereas there was no difference in WM tasks requiring low attentional control. Furthermore, only high attentional control WM tasks were significantly related to Raven’s performance in the control group, whereas all WM tasks were similarly related in the ADHD group. It is concluded that performance in high attentional control WM tasks may be related to fluid intelligence, but also to a specific control component that is independent of intelligence and is poor in children with ADHD.
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- Attentional WM is not necessarily specifically related with fluid intelligence: the case of smart children with ADHD symptoms