International Meeting for Autism Research: Attention Networks In Children with ADHD and High-Functioning ASD

Attention Networks In Children with ADHD and High-Functioning ASD

Saturday, May 14, 2011
Elizabeth Ballroom E-F and Lirenta Foyer Level 2 (Manchester Grand Hyatt)
10:00 AM
C. M. Freitag1 and S. Haenig2, (1)Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University, Frankfurt, Germany, (2)Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Saarland University Hospital, Homburg, Germany
Background: Clincial attention problems are often reported in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and high-functioning autism spectrum disorder (HF-ASD). In addition, differential executive function deficits have been described, but previous studies reported contradictory findings.

Objectives: In this study we compared attentional function according to the multi-component model of attention by can Zomeren & Brouwer (1994) between age, sex, and IQ-matched children with ADHD, HFASD and controls. We expected the children with ADHD to show difficulties with selectivity and cognitive inhibition, whereas for HFASD we expected difficulties with selectivity and cognitive flexibility.

Methods: 90 children with ADHD, 40 children with HFASD, and 60 control children were assessed by the neuropsychological test battery TAP ( The target parameters were error rates, dichotomised by the median into high and low, compared between the three groups. IQ, age, and gender were controlled for during logistic regression analyses.

Results: Children with ADHD showed impairments in the subtests phasic alertness, vigilance, go-nogo, attentional shifting, and incompatibility. Children with HFASD without ADHD did not show any impairments compared to controls.

Conclusions: Multi-component attention problems are found predominantly in children with ADHD who showed impairments in attentional intensity and selectivity as well as with regard to cognitive inhibition.

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