Selective impairment of attentional set shifting in adults with ADHD

  • Background: Task switch protocols are frequently used in the assessment of cognitive control, both in clinical and non-clinical populations. These protocols frequently confound task switch and attentional set shift. The current study investigated the ability of adult ADHD patients to shift attentional set in the context of switching tasks. Method: We tested 38 adults with ADHD and 39 control adults with an extensive diagnostic battery and a task switch protocol without proactive interference. The experiment combined orthogonally task-switch vs. repetition, and attentional set shift vs. no shift. Each experimental stimulus had global and local features (Hierarchical/"Navon" stimuli), associated with corresponding attentional sets. Results: ADHD patients were slower than controls in task switch trials with a simultaneous shift of attention between global/local attentional sets. This also correlated significantly with diagnostic scales for ADHD symptoms. The patients had more variable reaction times, but when the attentional set was kept constant neither were they significantly slower nor showed higher task switch costs. Conclusion: ADHD is associated with a deficit in flexible deployment of attention to varying sources of stimulus information.

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Author:Aquiles Luna-Rodriguez, Mike Wendt, Julia Kerner auch Körner, Caterina Gawrilow, Thomas Jacobsen
Pubmed Id:
Parent Title (English):Behavioral and brain functions
Publisher:BioMed Central
Place of publication:London
Document Type:Article
Year of Completion:2018
Date of first Publication:2018/11/10
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2019/04/16
Tag:ADHD; Attentional set; Cognitive control; Executive function; Task switching
Issue:1, Art. 18
Page Number:10
First Page:1
Last Page:10
Open Access: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
Institutes:Neuere Philologien / Neuere Philologien
Angeschlossene und kooperierende Institutionen / Deutsches Institut für Internationale Pädagogische Forschung (DIPF)
Dewey Decimal Classification:6 Technik, Medizin, angewandte Wissenschaften / 61 Medizin und Gesundheit / 610 Medizin und Gesundheit
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung 4.0