Prior research has shown that attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and epilepsy are frequently comorbid and that both disorders are associated with various attention and memory problems. Nonetheless, limited research has been conducted comparing the two disorders in one sample to determine unique versus shared deficits. Hence, we investigated differences in working memory (WM) and short-term and delayed recall between children with ADHD, focal epilepsy of mixed foci, comorbid ADHD/epilepsy and controls. Participants were compared on the Core subtests and the Picture Locations subtest of the Children’s Memory Scale (CMS). Results indicated that children with ADHD displayed intact verbal WM and long-term memory (LTM), as well as intact performance on most aspects of short-term memory (STM). They performed worse than controls on Numbers Forward and Picture Locations, suggesting problems with focused attention and simple span for visual-spatial material. Conversely, children with epilepsy displayed poor focused attention and STM regardless of the modality assessed, which affected encoding into LTM. The only loss over time was found for passages (Stories). WM was intact. Children with comorbid ADHD/epilepsy displayed focused attention and STM/LTM problems consistent with both disorders, having the lowest scores across the four groups. Hence, focused attention and visual-spatial span appear to be affected in both disorders, whereas additional STM/encoding problems are specific to epilepsy. Children with comorbid ADHD/epilepsy have deficits consistent with both disorders, with slight additive effects. This study suggests that attention and memory testing should be a regular part of the evaluation of children with epilepsy and ADHD.
- Working memory
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology