ERP Correlates of Proactive and Reactive Cognitive Control in Treatment-Naïve Adult ADHD


This study investigated whether treatment naïve adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD; n = 33; 19 female) differed from healthy controls (n = 31; 17 female) in behavioral performance, event-related potential (ERP) indices of preparatory attention (CueP3 and late CNV), and reactive response control (Go P3, NoGo N2, and NoGo P3) derived from a visual cued Go/NoGo task. On several critical measures, Cue P3, late CNV, and NoGo N2, there were no significant differences between the groups. This indicated normal preparatory processes and conflict monitoring in ADHD patients. However, the patients had attenuated Go P3 and NoGoP3 amplitudes relative to controls, suggesting reduced allocation of attentional resources to processes involved in response control. The patients also had a higher rate of Go signal omission errors, but no other performance decrements compared with controls. Reduced Go P3 and NoGo P3 amplitudes were associated with poorer task performance, particularly in the ADHD group. Notably, the ERPs were not associated with self-reported mood or anxiety. The results provide electrophysiological evidence for reduced effortful engagement of attentional resources to both Go and NoGo signals when reactive response control is needed. The absence of group differences in ERP components indexing proactive control points to impairments in specific aspects of cognitive processes in an untreated adult ADHD cohort. The associations between ERPs and task performance provided additional support for the altered electrophysiological responses.