Duration judgments in children with ADHD suggest deficient utilization of temporal information rather than general impairment in timing

Child Neuropsychol. 2004 Sep;10(3):162-72. doi: 10.1080/09297040409609807.


Clinicians, parents, and teachers alike have noted that individuals with ADHD often have difficulties with "time management," which has led some to suggest a primary deficit in time perception in ADHD. Previous studies have implicated the basal ganglia, cerebellum, and frontal lobes in time estimation and production, with each region purported to make different contributions to the processing and utilization of temporal information. Given the observed involvement of the frontal-subcortical networks in ADHD, we examined judgment of durations in children with ADHD (N = 27) and age- and gender-matched control subjects (N = 15). Two judgment tasks were administered: short duration (550 ms) and long duration (4 s). The two groups did not differ significantly in their judgments of short interval durations; however, subjects with ADHD performed more poorly when making judgments involving long intervals. The groups also did not differ on a judgment-of-pitch task, ruling out a generalized deficit in auditory discrimination. Selective impairment in making judgments involving long intervals is consistent with performance by patients with frontal lobe lesions and suggests that there is a deficiency in the utilization of temporal information in ADHD (possibly secondary to deficits in working memory and/or strategy utilization), rather than a problem involving a central timing mechanism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / physiopathology*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / psychology*
  • Child
  • Cognition* / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Judgment* / physiology
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Pitch Discrimination / physiology
  • Reference Values
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Time Factors
  • Time Perception* / physiology