The development of selective attention in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

J Abnorm Child Psychol. 2001 Jun;29(3):229-39. doi: 10.1023/a:1010381731658.


The influence of age on a selective attention task was studied in a sample of children with and without Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The impact of methylphenidate (MPH) treatment on selective attention was also investigated in the children with ADHD. Two age groups of children with ADHD and two age groups of control children were tested using a timed computer task. The task consisted of identifying visual target stimuli under various distracter conditions. Distracters varied on the basis of modality (i.e., visual, auditory, or both) and task relevance (i.e., meaningful or irrelevant). Reaction times and accuracy were measured. Children with ADHD were less efficient on the selective attention task than were children without ADHD, and older children were more efficient than younger children in both groups. Children without ADHD were influenced more by the nature of distracters than were children with ADHD. For children with ADHD, MPH improved performance overall.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Attention / drug effects*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / diagnosis*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / drug therapy*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / psychology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / pharmacology*
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methylphenidate / pharmacology*
  • Methylphenidate / therapeutic use
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Reaction Time / drug effects
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Methylphenidate