Journal article

Can children and adolescents with ADHD use attention to maintain verbal information in working memory?


  • 14.03.2023
Published in:
  • PLOS ONE / Giofrè, David. - Public Library of Science (PLoS). - 2023, vol. 18, no. 3, p. 1-29
English Children and adolescents with attentional-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) present deficits in working memory (WM), but accounts for this phenomenon are still lacking. In this study, we used two variations of a complex-span task to test whether a specific WM mechanism, attentional refreshing, causes these deficits. Attentional refreshing is a maintenance strategy based on the sequential switch of attention between maintaining and processing information in WM. Its use is evidenced by a decrease in recall performance proportional to the distraction of attention away from the memoranda. In this study, we designed two experiments requiring children and adolescents with ADHD symptoms to maintain sequences of letters for subsequent recall, while performing a distracting task. In Experiment 1, the distracting task consisted of reading digits aloud. In Experiment 2, it consisted in making spatial judgements. The pace of the distracting tasks was varied to manipulate the level of attentional distraction. We observed that recall in ADHD participants was higher in the distracting conditions that give attention more opportunity to refresh letters. Moreover, ADHD participants had a similar recall performance to their age-matched typically developing peers. This study shows first evidence that individuals with ADHD can use attention to maintain verbal information in WM and calls for more research to understand their WM development.
Faculté des lettres et des sciences humaines
Département de Psychologie
  • English
Memory and learning
Open access status
Persistent URL

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