ERP indices of working memory updating in AD/HD: differential aspects of development, subtype, and medication

J Clin Neurophysiol. 2008 Feb;25(1):32-41. doi: 10.1097/WNP.0b013e318163ccc0.


This study investigated whether children and adolescents diagnosed with the predominantly inattentive and combined subtypes of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD-in and AD/HD-com, respectively) differed on psychophysiological indices of working memory updating off- and on-stimulant medication, as compared with control subjects and each other. ERPs were recorded in AD/HD and control participants during a one-back working memory task. The N100 (discrimination), P150 (selection), N300 (memory retrieval), and P450wm (updating) components after nontarget stimuli, which served to update working memory with target identity, were assessed. Premedication abnormalities were obtained for the N300 component, delayed in the child AD/HD-com group, and attenuated in the adolescent AD/HD-in group and P450wm component for all AD/HD groups, expressed as either delayed latency and/or attenuated amplitude. ERP abnormalities were predominantly ameliorated after stimulant medication. There were no psychophysiological differences between the subtypes. A general feature of the disorder relates to a deficit in the conscious updating of working memory systems with newly relevant information (P450wm), which varies with age and subtype. Children with AD/HD-com and adolescents with AD/HD-in also exhibit abnormalities in the retrieval of relevant prior memories (N300). This study indicates that AD/HD is related to abnormalities in the capacity to modulate the content of working memory stores.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / drug therapy
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / physiopathology*
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Evoked Potentials / drug effects
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory / drug effects
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Psychomotor Performance / drug effects
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants