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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Memory and ADHD

09/22/2000

Question:

Do people with ADHD have troubles remembering things that you`ve asked them to do? Such as repeatedly telling them to keep simple chores done and not doing it the next day.

Answer:

The short answer is yes. The longer answer involves an explanation of why this might occur. Not knowing the individual you are referring to, I will mention a few possibilities. Inattention implies that some information from the environment (including such things as instructions from parents, classroom discussion) will be missed; that is, some information will not enter the mind. Accordingly, this information will not be remembered. Another way in which memory is affected is through poor organization. Most, if not all, individuals with ADD are somewhat disorganized. Such cognitive disorganization would involve inefficient memory encoding and retrieval processes which means information is not structured in a way that provides for easy access when it is needed. Therefore, remembering to perform a task at a particular time may be difficult. Finally, another cognitive mechanism whereby tasks are not remembered to be performed would be distraction. In this regard, an individual might not remember because of involvement in other activities rather than the intended activity. None of these possible ways of not remembering have to do with poor memory in the sense of failure to learn new information. Rather they have to do with other cognitive mechanisms (attention, organization, and inhibitory control) that are important for the efficient utilization of information stored in memory. I hope this is helpful.

For more information:

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Response by:

Robert Krikorian, PhD
Associate Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati