Neural mechanisms of cognitive control and reward learning in children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder




Lukie, Carmen Noel

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A substantial amount of behavioural, genetic, and neurophysiological data suggest that Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is influenced by an underlying abnormality in the midbrain dopamine system. A previous study found that children with ADHD are unusually sensitive to the salience of rewards, mediated in part by the dopamine system (Holroyd, Baker, Kerns & Mueller, 2008). The current study aimed to replicate and expand upon the previous finding using event-related potentials (ERP) recorded from typically developing children and children with ADHD as they navigated a “virtual T-Maze” in two conditions differing on reward saliency. Children also completed a behavioural task designed to measure decision making and sensitivity to reward and punishment. Both groups of children responded to the behavioural task in a way that is indicative of increased sensitivity to reward. Unlike the previous study, the salience of reward as reflected in the ERP did not have an effect on either children with ADHD or typically developing children. However, both groups displayed a larger error-related negativity (ERN) in the condition presented second.



ADHD, Error related negativity, event related potentials, reinforcement learning, Attention-deficit-disordered children