Conditional associative learning of spatial and object information in children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder

Jill C. Gitten, Jesse L. Winer, Elena K. Festa, William C. Heindel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The present study assessed frontostriatal mediated memory functions in children with ADHD (N = 12) and healthy control participants (N = 12) using two tests of conditional associative learning (i.e., object and spatial) that shared similar stimulus-response association structures but that differed in terms of the demands placed upon strategic processes. Children with ADHD displayed normal performance on the object learning task but were impaired on the spatial learning task that placed greater demands on internally derived strategic processes. Secondary analyses further indicated that this strategic processing impairment cannot be attributed specifically to perseverative or working memory errors but rather appears to be related to a more general inability to maintain a high degree of consistency in responding across trials. Although the results of this study must be interpreted in light of the small sample sizes, they suggest that ADHD does not produce a basic deficit in acquiring stimulus-response associations previously shown to be associated with basal ganglia dysfunction. Rather, these findings suggest that the impaired conditional associative learning performance of children with ADHD is attributable to deficits in strategic processes previously been found to be dependent upon the integrity of the prefrontal cortex.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-56
Number of pages18
JournalChild Neuropsychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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