MENTAL ROTATION IN CHILDREN WITH ADHD: A DIFFUSION MODEL ANALYSIS

Restricted (Penn State Only)
Author:
Feldman, Jason Scot
Graduate Program:
Psychology
Degree:
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
March 27, 2018
Committee Members:
  • Cynthia L Huang-Pollock, Thesis Advisor
  • Frank Gerard Hillary, Committee Member
  • Bradley Paul Wyble, Committee Member
Keywords:
  • ADHD
  • Mental rotation
  • diffusion model
Abstract:
OBJECTIVE: In recent years, the diffusion model has helped link well-documented cognitive deficits observed in ADHD (i.e., slower, highly variable, and less accurate responses) to slower acquisition of information needed to identify correct responses (i.e., slower drift rate, or v). Given that these findings have come almost exclusively from a limited number of tests of executive functioning (EF), we tested whether similar atypicalities in nondecisional processes (Ter), response criteria (a), and v accounted for the slower and less accurate performance of children with ADHD on tests of visuospatial abilities. METHOD: A sample of 8-12-year-old children with (n = 229) and without ADHD (n = 101) completed three blocks (144 trials total) of a mental rotation task. Participants indicated via key press whether a visually presented comparison stimulus (i.e., an upright stick figure) and a simultaneously presented target stimulus rotated a “small” (i.e.  90) or “large” (i.e.,  90) amount were identical. RESULTS: Children with ADHD were less accurate and more variable than control subjects, but did not differ in response time (RT). The ADHD group exhibited slower drift rates and faster Ter, but no group differences for a emerged. However, compared to controls, children with ADHD did show smaller differences in response criteria between the small and large rotation conditions. CONCLUSIONS: The slowed rates of evidence accumulation and difficulty regulating response thresholds observed on a mental rotation task suggest that cognitive impairment of children with ADHD extends to visuospatial information processing. We discuss the implications of these findings for future cognitive research in ADHD.