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Title: Measuring Executive Function Deficits in Children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
Author: Kubas, Hanna
Advisor: Wilcox, Gabrielle
Keywords: Educational Psychology
Abstract: Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that often negatively impacts behaviour, cognition, and academic achievement. Children with ADHD also exhibit deficits in executive functioning (EF). Current conceptualizations of ADHD suggest that deficits across multiple cognitive processes, rather than a single core deficit, contribute to the manifestation of the disorder. In the current study, children with ADHD (n = 40) and typical controls (n = 36), ages 8 to 12, were compared on performance-based measures and behaviour ratings of EF, including inhibition, verbal and visuospatial working memory, and set shifting. Children with ADHD demonstrated significantly weaker performance on both the verbal and visuospatial working memory tasks, but no group differences emerged on the inhibition and set shifting tasks. Group differences remained when gender and cognitive scores were statistically controlled, but some differences disappeared when academic scores were entered as covariates. Parent behaviour ratings revealed significantly weaker EF scores for the ADHD group across all measures evaluated; all differences remained with the inclusion of gender, cognitive scores, and academic performance as covariates. Correlational analyses revealed modest, yet significant, associations between performance-based measures and behaviour ratings of EF; however, these associations were not uniquely correlated between performance-based tasks and behaviour ratings of EF hypothesized to measure the same underlying construct. Findings highlight the importance of using a combination of performance-based and behaviour ratings of EF in the assessment and treatment of ADHD. Implications for the clinical and diagnostic utility of EF assessment in ADHD are addressed.
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