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Regulation of emotion in ADHD: Can children with ADHD override the natural tendency to approach positive and avoid negative pictures?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Valerie Van Cauwenberge, Edmund James Barke, Karel Hoppenbrouwers, Karla Van Leeuwen, Jan R. Wiersema

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)397–406
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neural Transmission
Early online date15 Oct 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Oct 2016


King's Authors


Studies have demonstrated inefficient use of antecedent-focused emotion regulation strategies in children with ADHD attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In the current study we tested for the first time if ADHD is also associated with difficulties in response-focused strategies by measuring the ability to override action tendencies induced by emotional information. Performance data on a computer-based approach-avoidance paradigm of 28 children with ADHD and 38 typically developing children between 8 and 15 years of age were analyzed, by comparing a congruent condition in which they were instructed to approach positive and avoid negative pictures and an incongruent condition where they had to override these automatic reactions and approach negative and avoid positive pictures. Children also rated the valence and salience of the pictures. Children with ADHD and typically developing children rated the emotional valence of the pictures appropriately and similarly, while positive pictures were rated as more arousing by children with ADHD. Solid congruency effects were found indicating that the task measured response-focused emotion regulation; however groups did not differ in this respect. Our findings do not support a deficit in emotion regulation in ADHD in terms of the ability to override natural tendencies to approach positive and avoid negative pictures.

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