Emotional stimuli facilitate time perception in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder

J Neuropsychol. 2018 Jun;12(2):165-175. doi: 10.1111/jnp.12111. Epub 2016 Aug 27.


The aim of this study was to compare the effect of different emotional stimuli (neutral, positive, and negative) on time perception in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and normal children in dual-task form. Five hundred and ninety-nine students from primary schools were randomly selected. The Conner's Teacher Rating Scale (CTRS) questionnaire was completed by teachers. A total of 100 children with a score above the cut-off point for the CTRS were further assessed using the Child Symptom Inventory-4 (CSI-4). A total of 34 children with ADHD and 31 controls completed an emotional time discrimination task in two blocks of 1000 and 2000 ms duration. Children were asked to compare three image groups: neutral with neutral, neutral with positive, and neutral with negative images. Children with ADHD had significantly better performance in the emotional time discrimination task across all conditions when compared with controls: On average, discrimination thresholds were approximately 35 ms shorter for the children with ADHD. Our results indicate that children with ADHD have higher sensitivity to time relative to controls in a situation in which they must distribute resources between temporal and emotional processing. On the basis of the interference effect and the working memory capacity hypothesis, this dividing of attention causes a decrease of time accuracy in normal children.

Keywords: attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder; dual-task; emotion; time discrimination; time perception.

MeSH terms

  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / complications*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / physiopathology
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / psychology*
  • Child
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Perceptual Disorders / etiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Time Perception / physiology*