Selective inhibition in children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder off and on stimulant medication

J Abnorm Child Psychol. 2003 Jun;31(3):315-27. doi: 10.1023/a:1023285614844.


Selective inhibition requires discrimination between auditory signals and is assessed using a modification of the stop-signal task. Selective inhibition was assessed in a group of 59 clinic-referred, DSM-IV-diagnosed children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and compared to that of a community sample of 59 children. Methylphenidate (MPH) effects on selective inhibition were assessed in a subset of the ADHD sample that participated in an acute, randomized, placebo-controlled, crossover trial with 3 fixed doses of MPH. Children with ADHD performed more poorly than controls on the majority of selective stop-signal task parameters: they exhibited more anticipatory (invalid) responses, with less accurate and more variable responses on the response execution task, as well as a slower selective inhibition process. MPH improved speed of both inhibition and response execution processes; it also reduced variability of response execution and decreased nonselective inhibition. On the one hand, findings are consistent with purported inhibition deficit in ADHD, but on the other hand, suggest that neither the impairment itself, nor MPH effects, were restricted to inhibition.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / drug therapy*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / physiopathology
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Discrimination, Psychological / drug effects
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inhibition, Psychological*
  • Male
  • Methylphenidate / therapeutic use*
  • Psychopathology


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Methylphenidate