Neurocognitive mechanisms underlying working memory encoding and retrieval in Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

Rodrigo Ortega, Vladimir López, Ximena Carrasco, María Josefina Escobar, Adolfo M. García, Mario A. Parra, Francisco Aboitiz

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23 Scopus citations


Working memory (WM) impairments in ADHD have been consistently reported along with deficits in attentional control. Yet, it is not clear which specific WM processes are affected in this condition. A deficient coupling between attention and WM has been reported. Nevertheless, most studies focus on the capacity to retain information rather than on the attention-dependent stages of encoding and retrieval. The current study uses a visual short-term memory binding task, measuring both behavioral and electrophysiological responses to characterize WM encoding, binding and retrieval comparing ADHD and non-ADHD matched adolescents. ADHD exhibited poorer accuracy and larger reaction times than non-ADHD on all conditions but especially when a change across encoding and test displays occurred. Binding manipulation affected equally both groups. Encoding P3 was larger in the non-ADHD group. Retrieval P3 discriminated change only in the non-ADHD group. Binding-dependent ERP modulations did not reveal group differences. Encoding and retrieval P3 were significantly correlated only in non-ADHD. These results suggest that while binding processes seem to be intact in ADHD, attention-related encoding and retrieval processes are compromised, resulting in a failure in the prioritization of relevant information. This new evidence can also inform recent theories of binding in visual WM.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7771
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2020


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