Studies in children show that the development of spatial competence emerges between seven and eight years of age. Multiple memory systems (hippocampus-dependent spatial and caudate nucleus-dependent response learning) are involved in parallel processing of information during navigation. As a hippocampus-dependent spatial strategy also relies on frontoparietal executive control and working memory networks that are impaired in ADHD, we predicted that children will be more likely to adopt a response strategy as they exhibit ADHD symptoms. We tested 285 healthy children on a virtual radial-arm maze paradigm in order to test this hypothesis. We found that children displaying at least one ADHD symptom were more likely to have a perfect performance on a probe trial, which suggests that they did not rely on environmental landmarks. Children with ADHD symptoms may primarily rely on caudate nucleus-dependent response learning strategies at the expense of hippocampus-dependent spatial strategies. Repetition and reward based learning strategies, which are hallmarks of response learning, may be most effective in children exhibiting ADHD symptoms.
Keywords: ADHD; Caudate nucleus; Children; Hippocampus; Navigational strategy; Spatial memory; Twins.
Copyright © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.