Event rate and reaction time performance in ADHD: Testing predictions from the state regulation deficit hypothesis using an ex-Gaussian model
Wiersema, Jan R.
van Der Meere, Jacob J.
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According to the state regulation deficit (SRD) account, ADHD is associated with a problem using effort to maintain an optimal activation state under demanding task settings such as very fast or very slow event rates. This leads to a prediction of disrupted performance at event rate extremes reflected in higher Gaussian response variability that is a putative marker of activation during motor preparation. In the current study, we tested this hypothesis using ex-Gaussian modeling, which distinguishes Gaussian from non-Gaussian variability. Twenty-five children with ADHD and 29 typically developing controls performed a simple Go/No-Go task under four different event-rate conditions. There was an accentuated quadratic relationship between event rate and Gaussian variability in the ADHD group compared to the controls. The children with ADHD had greater Gaussian variability at very fast and very slow event rates but not at moderate event rates. The results provide evidence for the SRD account of ADHD. However, given that this effect did not explain all group differences (some of which were independent of event rate) other cognitive and/or motivational processes are also likely implicated in ADHD performance deficits.