Executive functioning in boys with ADHD: primarily an inhibition deficit?


This study was aimed at: (1) testing whether boys with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) demonstrate a deficit in response inhibition and deficits in other executive functions (EF), or alternatively, demonstrate a deficit in only response inhibition; (2) investigating which role associated factors, such as IQ, age, and performance on non-EF tasks play in EF in ADHD; (3) studying the association between the three different forms of inhibition studied here. Boys with ADHD were compared with normal control (NC) boys on five domains of executive functioning: inhibition (inhibition of a prepotent response, inhibition of an ongoing response, and interference control), planning, set-shifting, working memory, and verbal fluency. Boys with ADHD demonstrated deficits in interference control, inhibition of an ongoing response, planning, and letter fluency. After controlling for age, IQ, and non-EF measures, none of the EF deficits in ADHD remained. Finally, correlations between different inhibition measures were generally low, and correlations within domains of inhibition were not higher than correlations between domains of inhibition. This calls into question the distinctiveness of the different forms of response inhibition.