Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, Psychology

First Advisor

Bruce F. Pennington, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Erik G. Willcutt

Third Advisor

Anne P. DePrince

Fourth Advisor

Ralph Roberts

Fifth Advisor

Cynthia McRae


ADHD, Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Stop-signal task


The current study tested two competing models of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD), the inhibition and state regulation theories, by conducting fine-grained analyses of the Stop-Signal Task and another putative measure of behavioral inhibition, the Gordon Continuous Performance Test (G-CPT), in a large sample of children and adolescents. The inhibition theory posits that performance on these tasks reflects increased difficulties for AD/HD participants to inhibit prepotent responses. The model predicts that putative stop-signal reaction time (SSRT) group differences on the Stop-Signal Task will be primarily related to AD/HD participants requiring more warning than control participants to inhibit to the stop-signal and emphasizes the relative importance of commission errors, particularly "impulsive" type commissions, over other error types on the G-CPT. The state regulation theory, on the other hand, proposes response variability due to difficulties maintaining an optimal state of arousal as the primary deficit in AD/HD. This model predicts that SSRT differences will be more attributable to slower and/or more variable reaction time (RT) in the AD/HD group, as opposed to reflecting inhibitory deficits. State regulation assumptions also emphasize the relative importance of omission errors and "slow processing" type commissions over other error types on the G-CPT.

Overall, results of Stop-Signal Task analyses were more supportive of state regulation predictions and showed that greater response variability (i.e., SDRT) in the AD/HD group was not reducible to slow mean reaction time (MRT) and that response variability made a larger contribution to increased SSRT in the AD/HD group than inhibitory processes. Examined further, ex-Gaussian analyses of Stop-Signal Task go-trial RT distributions revealed that increased variability in the AD/HD group was not due solely to a few excessively long RTs in the tail of the AD/HD distribution (i.e., tau), but rather indicated the importance of response variability throughout AD/HD group performance on the Stop-Signal Task, as well as the notable sensitivity of ex-Gaussian analyses to variability in data screening procedures. Results of G-CPT analyses indicated some support for the inhibition model, although error type analyses failed to further differentiate the theories. Finally, inclusion of primary variables of interest in exploratory factor analysis with other neurocognitive predictors of AD/HD indicated response variability as a separable construct and further supported its role in Stop-Signal Task performance. Response variability did not, however, make a unique contribution to the prediction of AD/HD symptoms beyond measures of motor processing speed in multiple deficit regression analyses. Results have implications for the interpretation of the processes reflected in widely-used variables in the AD/HD literature, as well as for the theoretical understanding of AD/HD.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Laura E. Santerre-Lemmon


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

126 p.


Clinical Psychology