Competing core processes in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): do working memory deficiencies underlie behavioral inhibition deficits?

J Abnorm Child Psychol. 2010 May;38(4):497-507. doi: 10.1007/s10802-010-9387-0.


The current study examined competing predictions of the working memory and behavioral inhibition models of ADHD. Behavioral inhibition was measured using a conventional stop-signal task, and central executive, phonological, and visuospatial working memory components (Baddeley 2007) were assessed in 14 children with ADHD and 13 typically developing (TD) children. Bootstrapped mediation analyses revealed that the visuospatial working memory system and central executive both mediated the relationship between group membership (ADHD, TD) and stop-signal task performance. Conversely, stop-signal task performance mediated the relationship between group membership and central executive processes, but was unable to account for the phonological and visuospatial storage/rehearsal deficits consistently found in children with ADHD. Comparison of effect size estimates for both models suggested that working memory deficits may underlie impaired stop-signal task performance in children with ADHD. The current findings therefore challenge existing models of ADHD that describe behavioral inhibition as a core deficit of the disorder.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / complications
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / psychology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Executive Function*
  • Humans
  • Inhibition, Psychological*
  • Intelligence
  • Intelligence Tests
  • Male
  • Memory Disorders / complications
  • Memory Disorders / psychology*
  • Memory, Short-Term*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual
  • Psychomotor Performance*
  • Reaction Time
  • Space Perception