Processing speed weakness in children and adolescents with non-hyperactive but inattentive ADHD (ADD)

Timothy L. Goth-Owens, Cecilia Martinez-Torteya, Michelle M. Martel, Joel T. Nigg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


DSM-IV-TR defines ADHD-Predominantly Inattentive as allowing up to five symptoms of hyperactivity/impulsivity, while theories of the inattentive type usually assume a group that is hypoactive and characterized by processing speed and cognitive interference deficits. In a community-recruited sample of 572 children and adolescents, a pure inattentive subtype of ADHD (ADD) was defined as those who met DSM-IV-TR criteria for ADHD-PI but had two or fewer hyperactive/impulsive symptoms. Processing and output speeds of those with ADD were compared to those identified with DSM-IV-TR ADHD combined type and non-ADHD controls. These results were then contrasted with those found when DSM-IV-TR defined ADHD-PI was compared with ADHD-C and controls. Processing and output speed were assessed with the Trailmaking A and B and the Stroop Naming Tests. Cognitive interference control was assessed with the interference score from the Stroop Task. Slower cognitive interference speed was found in the ADD vs. ADHD-C and controls comparisons, but not the ADHD-PI versus ADHD-C and controls comparisons. On output speed measures, ADD exhibited the slowest performance, significantly different from controls and the effect size for the set-shifting speed contrast (Trailmaking B) was double that of the ADHD-PI vs. control comparison. ADHD-Inattentive type as defined by the DSM-IV-TR is a heterogeneous condition with a meaningful proportion of those affected exhibiting virtually no hyperactive/impulsive symptoms. This subgroup may represent a distinct inattentive condition characterized by poor cognitive interference control and slow processing or output speed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)577-591
Number of pages15
JournalChild Neuropsychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by NIH National Institute of Mental Health Grant R01-MH63146, R01-MH59105, and R01-MH70542 to Joel Nigg. Martel was supported by NIH F31 MH075533. Address correspondence to Timothy L. Goth-Owens, PhD, Department of Psychology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824. E-mail: [email protected]


  • ADD
  • Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • Inattentive subtype
  • Processing speed
  • Stroop color/word test

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Processing speed weakness in children and adolescents with non-hyperactive but inattentive ADHD (ADD)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this