Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is an early onset, highly heritable, chronic neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by underdeveloped/deficient executive functions, particularly those entailing working memory (WM). Substantial research exists documenting WM deficits in pediatric age range ADHD and their relation with adverse learning outcomes; however, relatively little is known concerning the extent to which deficient WM processes reflect underlying deficiencies in hemodynamic functioning (OxyHb). This is the first study to use a movement-tolerant neuroimaging tool—functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS)—to investigate hypothesized prefrontalOxyHb differences between children with ADHD and typically developing (TD) children while they complete memory tasks differing in cognitive processing demands (e.g., PH STM: phonological short-term memory, PH WM: phonological working memory). Children with ADHD produced a lower percentage of correct responses relative to TD children on both tasks, with larger magnitude between-group performance differences occurring for the more difficult PH WM task relative to the less demanding PH STM task. The fNIRS results for the two groups reflected a similar pattern. Hemodynamic responses were lower overall during both tasks for children with ADHD relative to TD children; however, they only reached statistically significant levels under the more difficult PH WM task condition. These findings suggest that children with ADHD exhibit an inadequate hemodynamic response in a region of the brain that may be responsible for phonological WM abilities. The study also highlights the use of fNIRS as a cost-effective, non-intrusive, movement tolerant, neuroimaging technique to localize/quantify neural activation patterns associated with executive functions. The results may be useful for the design of advanced cognitive training platforms that target and strengthen identified WM deficits underlying foundational learning and academic performance difficulties associated with ADHD.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Sciences
Psychology; Clinical Psychology
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Campus-only Access)
Eckrich, Samuel, "Working Memory in Children with Attention-deficit/Hyperactivity disorder: An Investigation of Short-term and Central Executive Memory Components Using Functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy" (2020). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2020-. 607.