Behavioral and electrophysiological indicators of auditory distractibility in children with ADHD and comorbid ODD

Lea Oja, Minna Huotilainen, Eija Nikkanen, Henna Oksanen-Hennah, Marja Laasonen, Arja Voutilainen, Lennart Wendt von, Kimmo Alho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Involuntary switching of attention to distracting sounds was studied by measuring effects of these events on auditory discrimination performance and event-related brain potentials (ERPs) in 6–11-year-old boys with Attention Deficit – Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and comorbid Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) and in age-matched controls. The children were instructed to differentiate between two animal calls by pressing one response button, for example, to a dog bark and another button to a cat mew. These task-relevant sounds were presented from one of two loudspeakersinfront of the child, and there were occasional task-irrelevant changes in the sound location, that is, the loudspeaker. In addition, novel sounds (e.g., a sound of hammer,rain, or car horn) unrelated to the task were presented from a loudspeaker behind the child. The percentage of correct responses was lower for target sounds preceded by a novel sound than for targets not preceded by such sound in the ADHD group, but not in the control group. In both groups, a biphasic positive P3 a response was observed in ERPs to the novel sounds. The later part of the P3a appeared to continue longer over the frontal scalp areas in the ADHD group than in the controls presumably because a reorienting negativity (RON) ERP response following the P3a was smaller in the ADHD group than in the control group. This suggests that the children with ADHD had problemsin reorienting their attention to the current task after a distracting novel sound leading to deterioration of performance in this task. The present study also indicates that children with ADHD and comorbid ODD show same kind of distractibility as found in previous studies for children with ADHD without systematic comorbid ODD.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBrain Research
Pages (from-to)42-50
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2016
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 515 Psychology
  • 3124 Neurology and psychiatry

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