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J Abnorm Child Psychol. 1998 Jun;26(3):161-74.

Effects of reward and response cost on response inhibition in AD/HD, disruptive, anxious, and normal children.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Psychology, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


In previous research, children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD) have demonstrated impaired response inhibition on the stop paradigm. In this study we examined whether this impairment in fact reflects a motivational deficit. Four groups of children (age range 7-13 years) participated in the study: 14 AD/HD children, 21 normal controls, 14 disruptive children, and 14 anxious children. The psychopathological groups were recruited from special educational services and mental health outpatient clinics. Parent, teacher, and child questionnaires were used to select children with pervasive disorders. Normal controls attended regular classes and scored low on all questionnaires. Children were tested once with reward contingencies and once with response cost contingencies in a randomized cross-over design. We hypothesized that if a motivational deficit underlies poor response inhibition in AD/HD children, this deficit will be remedied by response contingencies. Despite the presence of response contingencies, AD/HD children showed poor response inhibition compared with normal controls. Findings argue against a motivational explanation for the response inhibition deficit in AD/HD children.

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