Comparing attentional skills in children with acquired and developmental central nervous system disorders

Vicki Anderson, Dianne Anderson, Peter Anderson

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19 Citations (Scopus)


Attentional impairments in children occur in the context of both developmental and acquired disorders involving the central nervous system (CNS) and may have implications for ongoing development, potentially impeding cognitive, educational, and behavioral functions. Using a continuous performance paradigm (CPT), this study compared attentional profiles of children with developmental and acquired conditions impacting on the CNS: (i) attention deficit - hyperactivity disorder (ADHD: n = 27); (ii) moderate traumatic brain injury (TBI: n = 41); (iii) acute lymphoblastic leukemia (n = 31); and (iv) insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (n = 39). A healthy control group (n = 46) was also examined. Groups were compared on measures of sustained attention, selective attention, and response inhibition. In addition, measures of performance variability and deterioration and processing speed were examined. Results showed that children with ADHD exhibited global and severe attentional impairments in contrast to all other groups. Children with moderate TBI displayed mild attentional difficulties, restricted to selective and sustained attention domains. In conclusion, although CPT parameters differentiated the ADHD group from all others, a disorder-specific profile was not observed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)519-531
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the International Neuropsychological Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • ADHD
  • Children
  • CNS
  • Sustained attention
  • TBI
  • Variability

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