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J Abnorm Child Psychol. 2009 Nov;37(8):1123-35. doi: 10.1007/s10802-009-9334-0.

Inhibition, reinforcement sensitivity and temporal information processing in ADHD and ADHD+ODD: evidence of a separate entity?

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Department of Clinical Neuropsychology, VU University Amsterdam, Van der Boechorststraat 1, 1081 BT, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


This study compared children with ADHD-only, ADHD+ODD and normal controls (age 8-12) on three key neurocognitive functions: response inhibition, reinforcement sensitivity, and temporal information processing. The goal was twofold: (a) to investigate neurocognitive impairments in children with ADHD-only and children with ADHD+ODD, and (b) to test whether ADHD+ODD is a more severe from of ADHD in terms of neurocognitive performance. In Experiment 1, inhibition abilities were measured using the Stop Task. In Experiment 2, reinforcement sensitivity and temporal information processing abilities were measured using a Timing Task with both a reward and penalty condition. Compared to controls, children with ADHD-only demonstrated impaired inhibitory control, showed more time underestimations, and showed performance deterioration in the face of reward and penalty. Children with ADHD+ODD performed in-between children with ADHD-only and controls in terms of inhibitory controls and the tendency to underestimate time, but were more impaired than controls and children with ADHD-only in terms of timing variability. In the face of reward and penalty children with ADHD+ODD improved their performance compared to a neutral condition, in contrast to children with ADHD-only. In the face of reward, the performance improvement in the ADHD+ODD group was disproportionally larger than that of controls. Taken together the findings suggest that, in terms of neurocognitive functioning, comorbid ADHD+ODD is a substantial different entity than ADHD-only.

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