Are "cool" executive functions impairments more salient in ADHD symptoms than in reading disability?

Are "cool" executive functions impairments more salient in ADHD symptoms than in reading disability?

First Author: JERUSA DE SALLES -- Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul
Additional authors/chairs: 
Gabriella Koltermann; Natália Becker; Mariuche Rodrigues de Almeida Gomides; Giulia Moreira Paiva; Vitor Geraldi Haase
Keywords: Reading disability, Executive Functions, Portuguese Language, Phonological processing, children
Abstract / Summary: 

This study aims to investigate common and distinct neuropsychological deficits in children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder symptoms (AS) and those with Reading Disability (RD) in phonological processing, working memory and executive functions (EF). We assessed 216 children between 8 to 11 years old (M = 8.94; SD = .71), 55.1% girls, from 3rd and 4th grades of public elementary schools in two Brazilian capitals. The children were divided into three groups: 1) with RD only (n = 37); 2) with AS only (n = 20); and 3) controls (n = 159). MANOVA analysis, controlling for age and nonverbal reasoning was performed. The MTA-SNAP-IV Questionnaire and Oral Single-Word and Pseudoword Reading Task (LPI) were used to form the groups. The following instruments were employed: Phoneme Elision Task, Digit and Letter Spans (forward and backward), Corsi Block-Tapping Task (forward and backward), Five Digit Test, Phonemic and Semantic Verbal Fluency, Contingency Naming Task (CNT) (letters, numbers, figures, and Inhibition and Flexibility components). The results showed worse performance for the RD group, compared to the AS group, on measures of phonological processing (phonemic awareness, phonological short-term memory, and lexical access) and EF components (orthographic verbal fluency and processing speed). The AS group did not differ from the control group in the majority of EF tasks. Compared to the control group, the ADHD symptoms group and the RD group both showed significantly more errors only in rapid automatized naming of figures, which evaluates the inhibition component of EF; performance on this task was similar for these groups. We conclude that children with RD have greater impairment in phonological processing and EF compared to those with AS. Furthermore, deficits in inhibitory control may be shared between children with both conditions. We also highlight the relevance of interventions that aim to develop inhibitory control in children with AS or RD.