A novel multidomain computerized cognitive assessment for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: evidence for widespread and circumscribed cognitive deficits

J Child Neurol. 2007 Mar;22(3):264-76. doi: 10.1177/0883073807299859.


Multidomain assessment may enhance the diagnosis of cognitive impairment in children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). A set of novel Web-enabled computerized tests has recently been shown to be valid for identifying mild cognitive impairment and characterizing the cognitive profile associated with various disorders. It was anticipated that these tests would be well suited for use in children with ADHD. The authors tested this idea in a pilot study of 15 children (12 males, 3 females; mean age, 11 years 10 months; range, 9-15 years) with ADHD and 15 age-, education-, and gender-matched controls. The profile of cognitive impairment in ADHD children off methylphenidate across 6 cognitive domains (memory, executive function, visual-spatial skills, verbal function, attention, and motor skills) was described relative to controls. The effect of treatment with methylphenidate was examined by comparing the ADHD children on methylphenidate and on placebo (administered in a double-blind randomized fashion) relative to controls and by comparing the ADHD children on methylphenidate relative to placebo. Significant impairment in ADHD was evident in memory, visual-spatial, verbal, and attention domains, and near-significant impairment was observed in executive function and motor skills. On methylphenidate but not placebo, performance was comparable to controls in immediate verbal memory, psychomotor accuracy, visual-spatial, verbal rhyming, and overall battery performance. Significant improvement with administration of methylphenidate relative to placebo was evident for psychomotor accuracy, verbal rhyming, and overall battery performance. Hence, on the limited basis of this pilot study, the set of computerized tests studied appears to be useful for measuring cognitive function in ADHD; however, additional studies are needed to confirm this.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / complications*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / drug therapy
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Choice Behavior / physiology
  • Cognition / drug effects
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Cognition Disorders / drug therapy
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology
  • Methylphenidate / therapeutic use
  • Motor Skills / drug effects
  • Motor Skills / physiology
  • Neuropsychological Tests / statistics & numerical data*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Verbal Behavior
  • Visual Perception / drug effects
  • Visual Perception / physiology


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Methylphenidate