Hot executive control and response to a stimulant in a double-blind randomized trial in children with ADHD

Jessica Yarmolovsky, Tamar Szwarc, Miguel Schwartz, Emanuel Tirosh, Ronny Geva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is thought to involve an executive inhibitory control (IC) deficit, yet it is not clear if this is a general deficit affecting both cold and hot EC, and if methylphenidate (MPH) affects both systems in treated children. We explored this by using a Stroop-like task in children with ADHD as compared to controls, containing different types of emotional stimuli (six levels), and we investigated the role of intervention with MPH on IC as compared to placebo. Children with ADHD and controls (N = 40; 7–13 years old) were tested with a hot and cold Stroop-like task. This was followed by a double-blind placebo-controlled crossover trial of the effect of MPH on these skills. Children with ADHD showed a specific difficulty inhibiting their responses, particularly to hot, angry and frustration-inducing stimuli. Further, treatment with MPH was effective in reducing errors toward frustration-inducing stimuli as compared to placebo (p < .05, η2 = .347), particularly with repeated exposure to the stimuli. Results indicate that children with ADHD experience executive control difficulties, particularly in hot negative emotional contexts. These emotion regulation difficulties are amenable to stimulant intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-82
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank the teams at the Developmental Neuropsychology Lab, Bar Ilan University, The Brain Research Center, Bar Ilan University and at Bnei Zion hospital, as well as the participating families. The study was supported by Infrastructure of the Science, Space and Technology office awarded to Prof. Ronny Geva.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, The Author(s).


  • ADHD
  • Children
  • Executive control
  • Methylphenidate


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