Investigating the Impact of Cognitive Load and Motivation on Response Control in Relation to Delay Discounting in Children with ADHD

Mary K. Martinelli, Stewart H. Mostofsky, Keri S. Rosch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is characterized by deficits in impulse control across a range of behaviors, from simple actions to those involving complex decision-making (e.g., preference for smaller-sooner versus larger later rewards). This study investigated whether changes in motor response control with increased cognitive load and motivational contingencies are associated with decision-making in the form of delay discounting among 8–12 year old children with and without ADHD. Children with ADHD (n = 26; 8 girls) and typically developing controls (n = 40; 11 girls) completed a standard go/no-go (GNG) task, a GNG task with motivational contingencies, a GNG task with increased cognitive load, and two measures of delay discounting: a real-time task in which the delays and immediately consumable rewards are experienced in real-time, and a classic task involving choices about money at longer delays. Children with ADHD, particularly girls, exhibited greater delay discounting than controls during the real-time discounting task, whereas diagnostic groups did not significantly differ on the classic discounting task. The effect of cognitive load on response control was uniquely associated with greater discounting on the real-time task for children with ADHD, but not for control children. The effect of motivational contingencies on response control was not significantly associated with delay discounting for either diagnostic group. The findings from this study help to inform our understanding of the factors that influence deficient self-control in ADHD, suggesting that impairments in cognitive control may contribute to greater delay discounting in ADHD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1339-1353
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 1 2017


  • ADHD
  • Cognition
  • Cognitive load
  • Delay discounting
  • Motivation
  • Response control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Investigating the Impact of Cognitive Load and Motivation on Response Control in Relation to Delay Discounting in Children with ADHD'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this