Neuroelectric mapping reveals precursor of stop failures in children with attention deficits

Behav Brain Res. 1998 Jul;94(1):111-25. doi: 10.1016/s0166-4328(97)00174-5.


Children with attention deficit disorders (ADD) may have specific problems with response inhibition in the STOP task. This task requires that subjects stop responses to a primary task if a second signal follows. However, it is unclear whether these problems reflect an impairment of the stopping process per se, whether they are related to reduced frontal lobe activation and whether they are confined to severe and pervasive forms of ADD. In 11 ADD and nine control children, 32 channel event-related EEG potentials (ERPs) were recorded in a STOP and a delayed GO task. Mapping revealed that both tasks evoked a similar sequence of neuroelectric microstates, i.e. of time segments with stable map topography. Adaptive segmentation identified the transition between these microstates. Reliable group differences were found in several microstates and in both tasks despite matched performance. In the GO task, ADD children had topographically altered P2/N2 microstates and attenuated P300-type microstates. In the STOP task, a topographically altered N1 microstate which coincided with the onset of the stop signal preceded the stop failures of ADD children. The timing of this microstate is too early to reflect deficits in actual stop signal processing and instead suggests altered initial orienting of attention to the primary signal in ADD children. Imaging with low resolution tomography (LORETA) during this microstate to stop failures indicated mainly posterior activation for both groups and increased rather than reduced frontal activation in ADD children. For a later microstate (P550), LORETA indicated strong frontal activation after successful stopping, but no group differences. The results suggest that information processing of ADD children deviates during activation of posterior mechanisms which may be related to the orienting of attention and which precedes and partly determines inhibitory control problems in ADD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arousal / physiology
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / diagnosis
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / physiopathology*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / psychology
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Child
  • Electroencephalography
  • Event-Related Potentials, P300 / physiology
  • Frontal Lobe / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Inhibition, Psychological*
  • Internal-External Control
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Orientation / physiology
  • Reference Values
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted