Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


The Department of Psychology

Document Type



Two leading theories regarding the neurocognitive basis of attentional disorders are the executive dysfunction theory and the state regulation theory. The executive dysfunction theory takes a top-down approach, explaining the symptoms of ADHD as a byproduct of general deficits in executive functioning—particularly disinhibition. The state regulation theory takes a bottom-up approach, explaining the symptoms of ADHD as a failure to be sufficiently aroused by, and subsequently engage with, less stimulating or rewarding tasks. These two theories predict different patterns of performance on tasks of executive functioning and attention, and research has demonstrated mixed support for both theories. The present study used a continuous performance task to manipulate RDoC paradigms of inhibition and arousal predicted to be affected disparately according to each theory. The data failed to support either the executive dysfunction theory or the state regulation theory as hypothesized; however, there was a significant interaction between the paradigms used for each theory. Factor analysis may be useful in establishing predictions which may guide follow-up investigation.



Committee Chair

Wm. Drew Gouvier, Ph.D.