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01-08-2013 | Uitgave 6/2013

Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 6/2013

Examination of Spatial Working Memory Performance in Children and Adolescents with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Combined Type (ADHD-CT) and Anxiety

Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology > Uitgave 6/2013
Alasdair Vance, Maite Ferrin, Jo Winther, Rapson Gomez


Spatial working memory (SWM) is known to be impaired in children with ADHD-CT, whether anxiety is present or not. Yet, it remains unclear whether anxiety disorders add to the SWM impairments evident in ADHD-CT and whether these findings extend into adolescents with ADHD-CT and anxiety. Further, it is not yet known whether children and adolescents with carefully defined anxiety disorders alone, demonstrate SWM deficits. This study explored the association of SWM and its strategy and spatial span components in carefully defined children and adolescents (age 6–16 years) with ADHD-CT alone (N = 163; 14 % female), ADHD-CT and anxiety (N = 243; 23 % female), anxiety disorders alone (N = 69; 25 % female) compared to age- and gender-matched healthy control participants (N = 116; 19 % female). The relationship between SWM and its strategy and span components and core ADHD-CT symptoms and anxiety symptoms were also examined. There was no evidence of an additive effect of ADHD and anxiety on SWM, strategy and spatial span deficits. But, anxiety disorders alone were associated with impaired SWM and span performance compared to healthy control participants. In contrast, strategy did not differ between children and adolescents with anxiety disorders alone and healthy control participants, suggesting that with anxiety span is the most affected component. Further, these findings were age-independent. This study concurs with and extends current influential models about the cognitive effects of anxiety on performance in the setting of ADHD-CT. Clinical implications and future research directions are discussed.

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