Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Is ADHD related to a poor internal mental clock?

I just ran across a 2004 study that examined prospective (reproducing a 30 second time interval) and retrospective (how long did a task take?) time judgements in children with reading disorders and ADHD (RD and ADHD groups).

Although prior research with ADHD subjects has implicated deficient mental/interval time-keeping (at the milisecond level--see introduction/review of lit in actual article--see below) as a potentail causal mechanism for ADHD, the current study attempted to determine if ADHD subjects, consistent with Barkley's ADHD impaired behavioral inhibition conceptualization (which articulates four primary self-regulation subsystems--working memory and sense of time, internalization of speech, affect regulation, and "reconstitution" or the formation of novel, complex behavioral sequences), differed from RD subjects in more "everday" time perception/judgments.

With regard to the focus of Tick Tock Talk: The IQ Brain Clock blog, the most interesting finding was a difference between RD and ADHD subjects in retrospective time estimation. As stated by the authors:
  • The most unusual and interesting finding of the study was discovering the retrospective exaggeration of ADHD children when judging how long the CCPT had taken. When asked “how long did that take?” of the CCPT, ADHD children gave more extreme estimates (“Oh! That took 3 hours!”). This finding underscores the temporal distortion problems found in ADHD (West et al., 2000). Childrens’ time estimations become less accurate with increasing duration of the time interval to be perceived, and distortion decreases with age (Zakay, 1992). Barkley’s theory emphasizes that ADHD childrens’ time judgements will be developmentally delayed relative to agemates.
  • McGee et al. (2004). Time Perception: Does it Distinguish ADHD and RD Children in a Clinical Sample? Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, Vol. 32, No. 5, October 2004, pp. 481–490 (click here to view)

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