The role of executive functions in mediating the relationship between adult ADHD symptoms and hyperfocus in university students

Miguel Garcia Pimenta*, Rixa Käthe Gruhnert, Anselm B.M. Fuermaier, Yvonne Groen

*Bijbehorende auteur voor dit werk

OnderzoeksoutputAcademicpeer review

1 Citaat (Scopus)
33 Downloads (Pure)

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Background: Hyperfocus, a state of intense, narrow and prolonged attentional focus, has been associated with symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in both clinical and non-clinical populations. Hyperfocus may be explained by difficulties in executive control, typically observed in ADHD. Aims: To investigate (1) whether ADHD and executive functions (EF) are associated with hyperfocus and (2) whether EF mediate the relationship between ADHD symptoms and hyperfocus. Methods and procedures: A non-clinical sample of 380 university students (264 females) completed self-reports of ADHD, EF, hyperfocus and hyperfocus during rewarding activities. Outcomes and results: Increased difficulties in EF and severity of ADHD symptoms were significantly and positively correlated with a higher frequency of hyperfocus. Moreover, EF difficulties partially mediated the relationship between ADHD and hyperfocus (after controlling for sex and substance use), but not the relationship between ADHD and hyperfocus during rewarding activities. Conclusions and implications: Difficulties in EF partially explained the higher frequency of hyperfocus, but not of hyperfocus during rewarding activities, among university students reporting more severe ADHD symptoms. Future research should investigate whether and how specific EF and other ADHD-related neurocognitive difficulties (e.g., reward sensitivity) contribute to various types of hyperfocus experiences in ADHD. What this paper adds?: This paper is a first attempt to explain the relationship between adult ADHD symptoms and hyperfocus experiences. Our findings suggest that, although highly correlated, existing self-reports of hyperfocus measure different aspects of this experience: hyperfocus and reward-related hyperfocus. We replicate previous findings that indicated a greater frequency of both types of hyperfocus in ADHD. Additionally, we demonstrate a connection between EF difficulties and different aspects of hyperfocus. Finally, we extend previous findings by proposing that EF difficulties partially explain the relationship between ADHD and hyperfocus, but not the relationship between ADHD and reward-related hyperfocus. We hypothesize that other neurocognitive difficulties (e.g., reward sensitivity) may contribute to explain the relationship between ADHD and different aspects of hyperfocus.

Originele taal-2English
Artikelnummer104639
Aantal pagina's10
TijdschriftResearch in Developmental Disabilities
Volume144
DOI's
StatusPublished - 30-nov.-2023

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