Inhibitory Control Deficit in ADHD

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Confirmation of an Inhibitory Control Deficit in Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.

Author/s: Russell Schachar
Issue: June, 2000

The objective of this study was to determine whether deficient inhibitory control distinguishes children with a diagnosis of attention-deficit/hyperactivity (ADHD) disorder, conduct disorder (CD), and comorbid ADHD + CD from normally developing children.

Participants were rigorously diagnosed children (age 7 to 12 years) with ADHD (N = 72), CD (N = 13) or ADHD + CD (N = 47) and 33 control children (NC). We studied inhibitory control using the stop-signal paradigm, a laboratory task that assessed the ability to inhibit an ongoing action.

The ADHD group had significantly impaired inhibitory control compared to NC, CD, and ADHD + CD children.

These results indicate that children with ADHD have deficient inhibition as measured in the stop-signal paradigm and that ADHD occurring in the presence of ADHD + CD may represent a phenocopy of CD rather than a variant of ADHD.

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Douglas Cowan, Psy.D., MFT is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Tehachapi, CA who has been a counselor to children, teens, and adults helping them to overcome ADHD, find relief for depression or anxiety, and solve other problems in life since 1989. He served on the medical advisory board to the company that makes Attend and Extress from 1997 through 2011, and he is the Editor of the ADHD Information Library online resource at His weekly ADHD Newsletter goes out to 9,500 families. Visit his website at for more information on achieving greater health, personal growth, Christ-centered spirituality, stress management, parenting skills, ADHD, working out the stresses of being a care-giver to elderly parents and also being a parent to teenagers, or finding greater meaning in retirement years, Dr. Cowan can be a valuable resource to you.

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