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ADHD and Brain Function

Girl writing in school

The diagnosis of ADHD is based on behavioural symptoms: inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. However, children with ADHD may also have cognitive weaknesses. These weaknesses affect their daily functioning at school and at home.

Research shows that children with ADHD often have problems in:

  • executive function; for example, planning a project, staying focused on a task, ignoring irrelevant information
  • speed of information processing; children with ADHD process information more slowly than their peers
  • working memory, which is often considered an executive function

These processes are often related to each other. For example, problems in working memory can affect other executive functions. Slow processing speed may reduce a child's ability to recall and organize information.

Each of these processes is discussed in more detail in this section. Click the links on the left to learn more.

Peter Chaban, MA, MEd

Rosemary Tannock, PhD