Encoding Process on ADHD

ADHD is a chronic condition including attention difficulty, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness. It is often first noticed in childhood and can continue into adulthood. People with ADHD often struggle with memory retention and encoding.

Anselm B.M. Fuermaier conducted the study “Source Discrimination in Adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder,” to see if people with ADHD have insufficient item memory. In the study he compared 37 adult participants who were diagnosed with ADHD to 40 healthy participants. Participants were selected according to age, diagnosis, intellectual functions, and willingness to participate in the study. These participants were assessed on their memory functions of encoding, retention, and source discrimination.

Fuermaier tested all of the participants individually. They were given word list paradigms that were divided into three parts: the Immediate Recognition Test, the Delayed Recognition Test, and the Source Memory Test. Standard measures of cognition were applied during the 40-minute delay of the Delayed Recognition Test.

There was a medium significant effect; the participants with ADHD and healthy participants differed in their performance in the experimental memory tasks. The data shows that the participants with ADHD showed a significantly decreased performance in the encoding of information and in source discrimination, but there was no significant difference for retention of already encoded material. The data from this study suggests a different pattern of memory impairment in adults suffering from ADHD with a deficit in source discrimination.

People with ADHD have weak divided attention, which makes it difficult to deal with two tasks at the same time. Due to the difficulty with divided attention, people with ADHD have more difficulty with the encoding process.

People without ADHD have richer retrieval paths, which are paths that guide ones thoughts towards the content to be remembered, whereas people who have ADHD have weaker retrieval paths. Due to people with ADHD having less elaborative encoding, the creation of retrieval paths is decreased. This assumption can be supported by the results of this study. I was interested to find out that this study was the first to show impaired source discrimination in adults with ADHD.





One thought on “Encoding Process on ADHD

  1. mgoad

    I chose to click on this article because my older sister has ADHD and to me, it always seemed like she did not have the best memory. I am constantly reminiscing and asking people if they remember certain moments, especially family members. For my sister, her answer is always no. It frustrates me that she does not remember fun times we had together or family memories that I thought no one could ever forget, but this post explained to me why that was. It makes sense now that she has a difficult time recalling those memories because people with ADHD have weaker retrieval pathways, so it is harder for her to remember every detail that I do. It could also be explained by the fact that people with ADHD have a harder time in the encoding process than people without, which would make it harder for her to encode the memories into her brain so she can recall them later. If there is a problem with encoding then there is a decreased chance that the memory will make it to long term memory, which is an obvious problem. I’m glad I read this post because it helped me learn something new that relates to my life!

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