Response time (RT) variability is a common finding in ADHD research. RT variability may reflect frontal cortex function and may be related to deficits in sustained attention. The existence of a sustained attention deficit in ADHD has been debated, largely because of inconsistent evidence of time-on-task effects. A fixed-sequence Sustained Attention to Response Task (SART) was given to 29 control, 39 unimpaired and 24 impaired-ADHD children (impairment defined by the number of commission errors). The response time data were analysed using the Fast Fourier Transform, to define the fast-frequency and slow-frequency contributions to overall response variability. The impaired-ADHD group progressively slowed in RT over the course of the 5.5min task, as reflected in this group's greater slow-frequency variability. The fast-frequency trial-to-trial variability was also significantly greater, but did not differentially worsen over the course of the task. The higher error rates of the impaired-ADHD group did not become differentially greater over the length of the task. The progressive slowing in mean RT over the course of the task may relate to a deficit in arousal in the impaired-ADHD group. The consistently poor performance in fast-frequency variability and error rates may be due to difficulties in sustained attention that fluctuate on a trial-to-trial basis.
Trinity College Dublin ->