Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Dr. B. Milliken


Negative priming producing by hyperactice and non-hyperactive boys was measured in two experiments. The use of the negative priming paradigm allowed for the interpretation of hyperactive/non-hyperactive differences in performance within the framework of previously developed process models. Previous studies of hyperactivity have relied on measures of distractibility as an index of selective attention, and have lacked a method for exploring possible deficits in underlying attention mechanisms. Significantly reduced negative priming produced by a school-based sample of hyperactive boys as compared to age-matched non-hyperactive peers was found across spatial of hyperactive boys as compared to age-matched non-hyperactive peers was found across spatial localization and letter identification tasks in Experiment 1. In Experiment 2, negative priming produced in a letter identification task by a clinic-based sample of boys diagnosed with Attention-deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) was compared to that produced by non-hyperactive controls. Combined data from the letter identification tasks in Experiments 1 and 2 provided sufficient power to detect a between-group difference statistically. In an effort to account for the relatively small and variable nature of the hyperactive/non-hyperactive differences in negative priming that were found, the influence of hyperactive subgroups was examined and the theoretical interpretation of negative priming effects was reconsidered within the frameworks of three current process models. The findings of this study are particularly significant with regard to the reinforcement of inattention as a key deficit in hyperactivity.

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