Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


Graduate Department of Clinical Psychology


Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common psychiatric diagnosis in childhood based on high levels of inattention or hyperactivity beyond those expected by the child's developmental level. Past research shows cognitive discrepancies in ADHD populations with verbal deficiencies observed primarily in tasks that require a combined auditory and verbal component. Working memory has been a long acknowledged deficit in persons with ADHD. This research examined cognitive differences among children with ADHD on working memory and other components of the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales, 5th edition (SB-5). Verbal and nonverbal working memory, as measured by the SB-5, were hypothesized to be different for the ADHD sample compared to controls and between ADHD subtypes. Participants were gathered from the SB-5 standardization sample that were diagnosed with ADHD and matched with a group of normal controls. Data was analyzed using ANOV A followed by a cluster analysis of discrepancies found at subtest and testlet levels. Due to matching and statistical control, results showed no differences in Full-Scale IQ, Verbal IQ, or Nonverbal IQ between normals and those with ADHD. Those with ADHD took an average of 20 minutes longer to complete the SB-5, consistently showed greater response variability, and exhibited significant differential item functioning for Vocabulary and Object Series/Matrices, which are the routing scales, in addition to more difficult Block Span items. Deficits in working memory appear to account for these differences. These results suggest that compared to normal children with the same level of general intelligence, those with ADHD will take longer to complete many academic tasks, will perform significantly more poorly on tasks requiring working memory, and yet may also do better on academic tasks that do not tax working memory. Thus compared to normal children, those with ADHD are likely to seem inconsistent in their performance. While these findings are specific to the SB-5, based on observations of children with ADHD we suspect that these differences between nom1al children and those with ADHD will generalize widely.

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