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Feedback associated with expectation for larger-reward improves visuospatial working memory performances in children with ADHD


Hammer RRubi , Tennekoon MMichael , Cooke GEGillian E , Gayda JJessica , Stein MAMark A , Booth JRJames R . Developmental cognitive neuroscience. 2015 6 23; 14(). 38-49


We tested the interactive effect of feedback and reward on visuospatial working memory in children with ADHD. Seventeen boys with ADHD and 17 Normal Control (NC) boys underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while performing four visuospatial 2-back tasks that required monitoring the spatial location of letters presented on a display. Tasks varied in reward size (large; small) and feedback availability (no-feedback; feedback). While the performance of NC boys was high in all conditions, boys with ADHD exhibited higher performance (similar to those of NC boys) only when they received feedback associated with large-reward. Performance pattern in both groups was mirrored by neural activity in an executive function neural network comprised of few distinct frontal brain regions. Specifically, neural activity in the left and right middle frontal gyri of boys with ADHD became normal-like only when feedback was available, mainly when feedback was associated with large-reward. When feedback was associated with small-reward, or when large-reward was expected but feedback was not available, boys with ADHD exhibited altered neural activity in the medial orbitofrontal cortex and anterior insula. This suggests that contextual support normalizes activity in executive brain regions in children with ADHD, which results in improved working memory.