An electrophysiological examination of ADHD-associated symptoms and selective attention in adults

Erica Diane Prentkowski

Abstract

A main component of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a deficit of inattention. This deficit causes impairment for both children and adults in a variety of settings including school and work. The current study examined auditory selective attention in a community sample of adults. It was the aim of this project to examine possible differences in selective attention for adults with high levels of ADHDassociated symptoms, when compared to adults with low levels of ADHD-associated symptoms, including conditions under which these differences may be an advantage. Specifically, it was expected that adults with high ADHD-associated symptoms would benefit from the high probability condition, whereas they would perform worse in the low probability condition. Results suggested that the high ADHD-associated symptoms group had a slower reaction time overall but, nevertheless, benefited behaviorally from correlated information, as exhibited by an improvement in reaction time for the high probability condition. Electrophysiological differences between the high and low ADHD-associated symptoms groups also emerged such that the high ADHD-associated symptoms group consistently displayed larger N1 amplitudes. Both groups appeared to react differently to distractor tones in the high probability condition although the high ADHD-associated symptoms group was the only group that benefited from this behaviorally.