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J Abnorm Child Psychol. 1999 Aug;27(4):293-309.

The relation of story structure properties to recall of television stories in young children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and nonreferred peers.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Kentucky, Lexington 40506-0044, USA.


In this study, the authors examined memory for televised stories to gain insight into similarities and differences in story comprehension between young children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and their typical peers. In particular, the authors investigated the extent to which 4- to 6-year-old children's free recall of story events is predicted by several structural properties of story events (number of causal connections, whether an event is on or off the story's causal chain, story-grammar category, and position in the story's hierarchical structure), whether differences exist between children with ADHD and nonreferred comparison children in their sensitivity to structural features of stories, and whether age differences in sensitivity to structural features are similar for both groups. For both groups, recall of story events was predicted by all four structural properties, but the effects of the two causal properties was stronger for comparison children than for children with ADHD. Further examination revealed that this difference was observed only when a competing activity was available during television viewing. These findings indicate that both groups of preschool children are able to benefit from causal structure when recalling television stories, but that children with ADHD lose this benefit when attention is divided. Consistent with previous findings for nonreferred children (P. W. van den Broek, E. P. Lorch, & R. Thurlow, 1996), in both diagnostic groups the effects of causal properties increased across age, and older children were more likely to include causally important protagonists' goals in their recalls than younger children.

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