Electrophysiological Correlates of Spontaneous Mind Wandering in Attention- Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

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We recently hypothesised that increased spontaneous mind wandering (MW-S) reflects a core process underlying attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Previous studies show that individuals with ADHD and neurotypical individuals with increased MW-S display similar cognitive-performance and electrophysiological (EEG) impairments in attentional processes. However, the cognitive-EEG markers associated with increased MW-S in ADHD remain poorly understood. We therefore investigated such markers in a sample of 69 sex- and age-matched adults with ADHD and 29 controls during the Sustained Attention to Response Task. We compared task performance and EEG measures (P3, time-frequency brain-oscillations) of attentional processes between groups, and examined their association with a validated self-report questionnaire of MW-S. Finally, we tested the hypothesis that MW-S and ADHD diagnosis relate to the same cognitive-EEG impairments using a hierarchical regression model. Compared to controls, adults with ADHD showed attenuations in P3, event-related alpha and beta suppression during response inhibition (No-Go trials), and theta power activations during response execution (Go trials), as well as increased reaction time variability and more commission and omission errors. MW-S was also continuously associated with most cognitive-EEG measures related to ADHD. The hierarchical regressions on measures associated with both ADHD diagnosis and MW- S showed that MW-S did not explain additional variance in the cognitive-EEG markers (except for beta suppression) beyond ADHD diagnosis, and vice versa. These findings are consistent with our hypothesis that ADHD diagnosis and MW-S share common neural deficits, and that MW-S may reflect a core symptom of the disorder
Original languageEnglish
JournalBehavioural brain research
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 31 Mar 2020


  • adhd
  • EEG
  • Mind wandering


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