Language Production Strategies and Disfluencies in Multi-Clause Network Descriptions: A Study of Adult Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

Paul E. Engelhardt, Fernanda Ferreira, Joel T. Nigg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Scopus citations

Abstract

A prominent behavioral manifestation of impulsivity in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is inappropriate language production, such as talking excessively, blurting out answers, and interrupting others. Objective: In this study, we examined language production in ADHD and non-ADHD controls to determine whether these types of language production problems are apparent in adults with ADHD. Method: Participants (18-35 years old, 53.3% male) were asked to describe networks of colored dots that contained two branches that differed in length and complexity. According to the Minimal-Load Principle (Levelt, 1989), participants should prefer to describe a shorter and less complex branch first, in order to minimize planning and memory demands when formulating a description of the network. The dependent measures focused on which branch participants chose to describe first and the fluency of the descriptions. Four types of disfluency were examined: filled pauses, silent pauses, repetitions, and repairs. Results: There was no difference between ADHD participants and controls in the decisions they made when describing the networks (p > .10, η2 = .004). Participants in both groups preferred to describe a short branch before describing a long branch and decisions were unaffected by complexity. However, ADHD participants did produce more words overall, t(73) = -2.33, p < .05, η2 = .07, and they also produced more disfluencies, F(4, 70) = 2.98, p < .05, η2 = .15, even after adjusting for number of words produced. Conclusions: These findings suggest less language efficiency and reduced fluency in ADHD, and that language production issues remain in adults with ADHD, similar to the issues commonly reported in children with ADHD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)442-453
Number of pages12
JournalNeuropsychology
Volume25
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2011
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • Disfluencies
  • Disfluency production
  • Language production
  • Network task

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology

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