Attentional versus motor inhibition in adults with attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder

Laurie A. Carr, Joel T. Nigg, John M. Henderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Faulty inhibition is theorized to be a central feature in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but it remains unclear whether inhibitory impairments encompass both motoric and attentional domains. Further, characterization of inhibitory deficits in adults with ADHD is needed. We experimentally assessed adults who met diagnostic criteria for ADHD and a subgroup who had partially remitted. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed.; American Psychiatric Association, 1994) subtype effects were also examined. Motoric inhibition was assessed with the antisaccade task, and attentional inhibition was assessed with the attentional blink (AB) task. Antisaccade results replicated prior findings of extended latencies and increased anticipatory saccades in ADHD. Errors, however, appeared to be epiphenomenal to ADHD as they were absent when symptoms had partially remitted. Anticipatory saccades appeared as potential core problems that remained even when symptoms had improved. Differential response patterns were found for predominantly inattentive and combined subtypes, with the latter showing increasing anticipatory movements with increasing fixation time. In the AB task, ADHD groups committed more errors but showed no convincing evidence of an abnormal blink. These results demonstrate clear effects on motoric inhibition but not attentional inhibition in adults with ADHD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)430-441
Number of pages12
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • ADHD
  • Adult
  • Antisaccade
  • Attentional blink
  • Inhibition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology


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