Date of Award

Fall 12-2014

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

Committee Chair

Dr. Tammy Barry

Committee Chair Department

Psychology

Committee Member 2

Dr. Christopher Barry

Committee Member 2 Department

Psychology

Committee Member 3

Dr. Sara Jordan

Committee Member 3 Department

Psychology

Committee Member 4

Dr. Natalie Williams

Committee Member 4 Department

Psychology

Abstract

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is diagnosed based on behavioral symptoms but is thought to have a significant heritable neurological basis, and several brain structures have been implicated. Recent research has focused on the role of environmental factors that may influence the behavioral expression of inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity in children and teens, particularly when a biological predisposition exists. This study sought to broaden the literature base by examining the extent to which one environmental factor—video game use—moderated the relation between neuropsychological deficits in attention and inhibition and the behavioral symptoms of ADHD. It was hypothesized that gaming frequency and duration as well as deficits in neuropsychological functioning would relate positively to ADHD symptoms. Twenty-five participants (age 10 to 17 years) recruited from the community were administered four neuropsychological tests of attention and behavioral disinhibition and reported on gaming habits while parents completed measures of ADHD symptoms and also reported on the child’s video gaming habits. Moderated multiple regression analyses were used to examine the moderating effects of gaming frequency and gaming duration on the association between neuropsychological deficits and ADHD symptom domains beyond control variables (i.e., age, gender, race/ethnicity, family income, IQ). Gaming duration was significantly related to symptoms of inattention. Neuropsychological deficits were not significantly related to symptoms of inattention or hyperactivity-impulsivity. However, the interaction of gaming frequency and sustained attention deficits predicted significant variability in inattention, and the interaction of gaming frequency and set shifting deficits significantly predicted symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity. These findings underscore the importance of continued research on environmental factors, such as video game use, that may exacerbate a biological predisposition for ADHD symptoms in children.

Masters thesis: http://aquila.usm.edu/masters_theses/238/

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