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Child Neuropsychol. 2000 Dec;6(4):286-96.

Lack of inhibition: a motivational deficit in children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and children with traumatic brain injury.

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Technical University of Aachen, Clinics for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, RWTH Aachen, Neuen-hofer Weg 21, D-52074 Aachen, Germany.


Recent research has demonstrated that both brain-injured children and children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) suffer from response inhibition deficits. To investigate whether these deficits can be influenced by motivational factors, the stop-signal task was performed with and without reward contingencies for successful inhibition. Three groups of children between 8 and 12 years of age, participated in the study: 31 children with ADHD, 37 with traumatic brain injuries (TBI), and 26 normal controls. Results indicated that, although all groups showed comparable learning effects, reward contingencies had different effects on the groups. Whereas the performance of children with ADHD under reward contingencies were brought up to the performance level of normal controls, rewards were found less effective at improving response inhibition in children with TBI. The results further support a motivational/energetic explanation of the inhibitory deficit in children with ADHD, and of a primary response inhibition deficit due to structural brain damage in children with TBI.

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