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Salum GA, Sato JR, Manfro AG, Pan PM, Gadelha A, do Rosário MC, Polanczyk GV, Castellanos FX, Sonuga-Barke E, Rohde LA. Atten. Defic. Hyperact. Disord. 2019; 11(1): 47-58.


Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil.


(Copyright © 2019, Springer)






Increased reaction time variability (RTV) is one of the most replicable behavioral correlates of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). However, this may not be specific to ADHD but a more general marker of psychopathology. Here we compare RT variability in individuals with ADHD and those with other childhood internalizing and externalizing conditions both in terms of standard (i.e., the standard deviation of reaction time) and alternative indices that capture low-frequency oscillatory patterns in RT variations over time thought to mark periodic lapses of attention in ADHD. A total of 667 participants (6-12 years old) were classified into non-overlapping diagnostic groups consisting of children with fear disorders (n = 91), distress disorders (n = 56), ADHD (n = 103), oppositional defiant or conduct disorder (ODD/CD; n = 40) and typically developing controls (TDC; n = 377). We used a simple two-choice reaction time task to measure reaction time. The strength of oscillations in RTs across the session was extracted using spectral analyses. Higher RTV was present in ADHD compared to all other disorder groups, effects that were equally strong across all frequency bands. Interestingly, we found that lower RTV to characterize ODD/CD relative to TDC, a finding that was more pronounced at lower frequencies. In general, our data support RTV as a specific marker of ADHD. RT variation across time in ADHD did not show periodicity in a specific frequency band, not supporting that ADHD RTV is the product of spontaneous periodic lapses of attention. Low-frequency oscillations may be particularly useful to differentiate ODD/CD from TDC.

Language: en


Attentional lapses; Conduct disorder; Oppositional defiant disorder; Reaction time variability; State regulation


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