Delay and reward choice in ADHD: an experimental test of the role of delay aversion.
Children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) choose smaller sooner (SS) over larger later (LL) rewards more than controls. Here we assess the contributions of impulsive drive for immediate rewards (IDIR) and delay aversion (DAv) to this pattern. We also explore the characteristics of, and the degree of familiality in, ADHD SS responders. We had 360 ADHD probands; 349 siblings and 112 controls (aged between 6 to 17 years) chose between SS (1 point after 2 s) and LL reward (2 points after 30 s) outcomes on the Maudsley Index of Delay Aversion (Kuntsi, Oosterlaan, & Stevenson, 2001): Under one condition SS choice led to less overall trial delay under another it did not. ADHD participants chose SS more than controls under both conditions. This effect was larger when SS choice reduced trial delay. ADHD SS responders were younger, had lower IQ, more conduct disorder and had siblings who were more likely to be SS responders themselves. The results support a dual component model in which both IDIR and DAv contribute to SS choice in ADHD. SS choice may be a marker of an ADHD motivational subtype.
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