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Arch Clin Neuropsychol. 2013 Nov;28(7):672-83. doi: 10.1093/arclin/act048. Epub 2013 Jul 9.

Performance lapses in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder contribute to poor reading fluency.

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Department of Neuropsychology, Kennedy Krieger Institute, Baltimore, MD, USA.


Children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) demonstrate increased response variability compared with controls, which is thought to be associated with deficits in attention regulation and response control that subsequently affect performance of more cognitively demanding tasks, such as reading. The present study examined response variability during a computerized simple reaction time (RT) task in 67 children. Ex-Gaussian analyses separated the response time distribution into normal (mu and sigma) and exponential (tau) components; the association of each with reading fluency was examined. Children with ADHD had significantly slower, more variable, and more skewed RTs compared with controls. After controlling for ADHD symptom severity, tau (but not mu or mean RT) was significantly associated with reduced reading fluency, but not with single word reading accuracy. These data support the growing evidence that RT variability, but not simply slower mean response speed, is the characteristic of youth with ADHD and that longer response time latencies (tau) may be implicated in the poorer academic performance associated with ADHD.


Attention; Dyslexia; Ex-Gaussian analyses; Executive function; Processing speed; Variability

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