Automatic Deficits can lead to executive deficits in ADHD

Gabriella Martino, Tindara Caprì, Claudia Castriciano, Rosa A. Fabio


It has been well documented an executive dysfunction in children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and with Reading Disorder (RD). The purpose of the present study was to test an alternative hypothesis that deficits in executive functioning within ADHD may be partially due to an impairment of the automatic processing. In addition, since the co-occurrence between ADHD and RD, we tested the hypothesis that the automatic processing may be  a possible common cognitive factor between ADHD and RD. We investigated the automatic processing of selective visual attention through two experiments. 12 children with ADHD, 17 with ADHD+RD and 29 typically developing children, matched for age and gender, performed two tasks: Visual Information Processing Task and Clock Test. As expected, ADHD and ADHD+RD groups differed from the control group in controlled process task, suggesting a deficit in executive functioning. All clinical subjects also exhibited a lower performance in automatic processes, compared to control group. The results of this study suggest that executive deficits within ADHD can be partially due to an impairment of automatic processing.


Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder; Reading disability; Executive functions; Automatic processing; Selective visual attention

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