Disentangling the relationships between motor control and cognitive control in young children with symptoms of ADHD

Cameron Ferguson, Christopher Hobson, Craig Hedge, Cerith Waters, Kate Anning, Stephanie van Goozen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Children with ADHD experience difficulties with motor and cognitive control. However, the relationships between these symptoms are poorly understood. As a step toward improving treatment, this study investigated associations between specific aspects of motor control and cognitive control in children with varying levels of hyperactive-impulsive symptoms. A heterogeneous sample of 255 children of 4 to 10 years of age (median = 6.50, MAD = 1.36) completed a battery of tests probing motor generation, visuomotor fluency, visuomotor flexibility, cognitive inhibition, verbal and visuospatial working memory, and cognitive flexibility. Their caregivers were interviewed regarding their hyperactive-impulsive symptoms. 25.9% of the main sample met diagnostic criteria for ADHD. Multiple linear regression analysis was used to determine whether specific aspects of motor control were associated with specific aspects of cognitive control, and whether any associations were moderated by hyperactive-impulsive symptoms. Additionally, cognitive modeling (the drift diffusion model approximated with EZ-DM) was used to understand performance on a cognitive inhibition task. Visuomotor fluency was significantly associated with cognitive inhibition. Visuomotor flexibility was significantly associated with cognitive flexibility. There were no significant moderation effects. Cognitive modeling was inconclusive. In conclusion, the ability to fluently perform visually guided continuous movement is linked with the ability to inhibit the effects of distracting information. The ability to spontaneously use visual information to flexibly alter motor responses is related to the ability to cognitively shift from one frame of mind to another. These relationships appear to be quantitatively and qualitatively similar across the childhood hyperactive-impulsive continuum as rated by parents.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages26
JournalChild Neuropsychology
Early online date22 Mar 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2023 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.


  • Motor control
  • Cognitive control
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • Hyper-activity impulsivity
  • Cognitive modelling
  • Drift diffusion model


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