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01-07-2013 | Uitgave 5/2013

Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 5/2013

Integrating Impairments in Reaction Time and Executive Function Using a Diffusion Model Framework

Tijdschrift:
Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology > Uitgave 5/2013
Auteurs:
Sarah L. Karalunas, Cynthia L. Huang-Pollock

Abstract

Using Ratcliff’s diffusion model and ex-Gaussian decomposition, we directly evaluate the role individual differences in reaction time (RT) distribution components play in the prediction of inhibitory control and working memory (WM) capacity in children with and without ADHD. Children with (n = 91, \( \overline{\mathrm{x}} \) age = 10.2 years, 67 % male) and without ADHD (n = 62, \( \overline{\mathrm{x}} \) age = 10.6 years, 46 % male) completed four tasks of WM and a stop signal reaction time (SSRT) task. Children with ADHD had smaller WM capacities and less efficient inhibitory control. Diffusion model analyses revealed that children with ADHD had slower drift rates (v) and faster non-decision times (Ter), but there were no group differences in boundary separations (a). Similarly, using an ex-Gaussian approach, children with ADHD had larger τ values than non-ADHD controls, but did not differ in μ or σ distribution components. Drift rate mediated the association between ADHD status and performance on both inhibitory control and WM capacity. τ also mediated the ADHD-executive function impairment associations; however, models were a poorer fit to the data. Impaired performance on RT and executive functioning tasks has long been associated with childhood ADHD. Both are believed to be important cognitive mechanisms to the disorder. We demonstrate here that drift rate, or the speed at which information accumulates towards a decision, is able to explain both.

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