Research Article

Mental flexibility (set-shifting) deficits in children with ADHD: A replication and extension study

Published in: Journal of Psychology in Africa
Volume 31, issue 4, 2021 , pages: 344–349
DOI: 10.1080/14330237.2021.1952637
Author(s): Tshikani Theodore Boshomane, South Africa, Basil Joseph Pillay, South Africa, Anneke Meyer, South Africa


The study investigated set-shifting impairment differences in children by Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) subtype compared to neurotypical peers. The sample consisted of 156 primary school children from the Limpopo Province of South Africa (ADHD = 78, neurotypical = 78). The children were assessed on the computerised Wisconsin Card Sorting Test, which provides set-shifting error scores as follows: total errors, perseverating responses, perseverating errors, and non-perseverating errors. Following Multivariate Analysis of Variance (MANOVA) for between-group differences, results showed that children with ADHD subtypes, across subtypes, were with more set-shifting deficits than the neurotypical comparison group on total errors, perseverative responses, perseverative errors, and non-perseverative errors. Sex and age did not influence the performance of set-shifting tasks. From these findings, we conclude that children with ADHD present with set-shifting difficulties that could be the target of early interventions.

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