Implicit Memory Development in School-Aged Children With Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): Conceptual Priming Deficit?

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Previous research has shown that children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) often demonstrate performance deficits on effortful, strategic memory tasks, whereas relatively rote tasks of memory reveal no such deficit. Thus far, research in this domain has focused primarily on explicit memory. This study examined performance on multiple measures of implicit and explicit memory in children aged 7 to 14 years with and without ADHD. Memory for words and pictures was assessed at 15-min and 24-hr intervals. ADHD and non-ADHD groups performed similarly on tests of explicit memory (category-cued recall and recognition) and on perceptual aspects of implicit memory (word stem completion and picture fragment identification) as a function of age, retention interval, and stimulus format (i.e., picture or word). However, there was no evidence of priming on a conceptual implicit memory test (category exemplar generation) for boys with ADHD. This type of conceptual task, which is likely mediated by frontal systems, may indicate a unique memory deficit associated with ADHD.