A New Spin on Spatial Cognition in ADHD: A Diffusion Model Decomposition of Mental Rotation

Jason S. Feldman, Cynthia Huang-Pollock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Objectives: Multiple studies have found evidence of task non-specific slow drift rate in ADHD, and slow drift rate has rapidly become one of the most visible cognitive hallmarks of the disorder. In this study, we use the diffusion model to determine whether atypicalities in visuospatial cognitive processing exist independently of slow drift rate. Methods: Eight-To twelve-year-old children with (n = 207) and without ADHD (n = 99) completed a 144-Trial mental rotation task. Results: Performance of children with ADHD was less accurate and more variable than non-ADHD controls, but there were no group differences in mean response time. Drift rate was slower, but nondecision time was faster for children with ADHD. A Rotation × ADHD interaction for boundary separation was also found in which children with ADHD did not strategically adjust their response thresholds to the same degree as non-ADHD controls. However, the Rotation × ADHD interaction was not significant for nondecision time, which would have been the primary indicator of a specific deficit in mental rotation per se. Conclusions: Poorer performance on the mental rotation task was due to slow rate of evidence accumulation, as well as relative inflexibility in adjusting boundary separation, but not to impaired visuospatial processing specifically. We discuss the implications of these findings for future cognitive research in ADHD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)472-483
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the International Neuropsychological Society
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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