Behavioral inhibition, sustained attention, and executive functions: constructing a unifying theory of ADHD.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) comprises a deficit in behavioral inhibition. A theoretical model is constructed that links inhibition to 4 executive neuropsychological functions that appear to depend on it for their effective execution: (a) working memory, (b) self-regulation of affect-motivation-arousal, (c) internalization of speech, and (d) reconstitution (behavioral analysis and synthesis). Extended to ADHD, the model predicts that ADHD should be associated with secondary impairments in these 4 executive abilities and the motor control they afford. The author reviews evidence for each of these domains of functioning and finds it to be strongest for deficits in behavioral inhibition, working memory, regulation of motivation, and motor control in those with ADHD. Although the model is promising as a potential theory of self-control and ADHD, far more research is required to evaluate its merits and the many predictions it makes about ADHD.