A dual task was used to study attentional capacity in three groups: in 6- to 12-year-old boys with attention deficit disorder plus hyperactivity (ADDH) or with ADDH and conduct disorder, and in normal children. Subjects performed a primary-choice reaction-time task first without and then with a secondary task that also required a response. Our prediction that the reaction time of ADDH subjects to the secondary task would increase more with increasing temporal overlap of the primary and secondary stimuli, if they were deficient in capacity, was not supported. However, the performance of ADDH subjects on the primary task deteriorated more than that of control subjects with the introduction of the secondary task, indicating a greater concurrence cost or a different allocation policy. Moreover, ADDH subjects had longer reaction times to the secondary task, indicating greater refractory effects or difficulty shifting capacity from primary- to secondary-task processes.
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