Date of Award

11-13-2007

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Mary K. Morris - Chair

Second Advisor

Diana L. Robins

Third Advisor

Anthony Y. Stringer

Fourth Advisor

David A. Washburn

Abstract

Previous research has shown that individuals endorsing inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity have deficient performance on tasks tapping different aspects of attention. Although there is empirical evidence suggesting that the behavioral domains of inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity are linked to functioning of independent and separate brain areas and neurotransmitter systems, cognitive characterization of adults presenting with problems within these domains is not complete. The aim for this study was to identify the cognitive correlates of the core behavioral domains that define the diagnosis of AD/HD (i.e., inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity) in a sample of college students, utilizing a computerized attention task, the Attention Network Test (ANT). Different ANT task components have been found to activate separate brain areas linked to the functioning of alerting, orienting and executive attention, and have the potential to provide an indication of the efficiency of these brain networks. In addition to completing the ANT, the participants filled out questionnaires covering common symptoms of adult AD/HD, anxiety and depression. Hierarchical regression analyses revealed that there were no reliable relationships between self-reported symptoms of current inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity and ANT performance. Further, self-reported depression and/or anxiety did not seem to impact the efficiency of attention networks to a significant degree in this study sample. Gender proved to be the most consistent predictor of ANT performance. Female gender was related to poorer executive attention efficiency. An exploratory ANCOVA revealed that individuals reporting high levels of impulsivity and emotional lability had poorer executive attention efficiency in comparison to those reporting these behaviors and problems to a lesser extent. Future research is needed in order to further explore the relationship between ANT performance and behavioral expressions of adult AD/HD and other neurological and psychiatric conditions.

Included in

Psychology Commons

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