Effects of Sensory Processing Patterns on Inhibitory Control as a Function of ADHD-traits and Trait Anxiety
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Anxiety and ADHD (traits) have been shown to co-occur in both clinical and non-clinical populations. In addition, both anxiety and ADHD are independently associated with atypical sensory processing. However, there has been no previous research investigating their combined effects on cognitive functions. It is important to identify the nature of their interactions, because often the impact of multiple challenges in affective, social, and cognitive domains can be different from the impact of each individual condition. The dimensional models of mental disorders regard psychopathologies as continuous, interdependent conditions with symptoms existing as traits along a continuum in the population, rather than discrete diagnostic categories. Following this framework, the overarching goal of this event-related potential study is to investigate how individual differences in sensory processing patterns (SPPs), ADHD-traits and trait anxiety influence inhibitory control in 77 (final sample 60, ages 18-26) female and male non-clinical emerging-adults. It was expected that the effect of the SPPs on inhibitory control would depend on the level of ADHD-traits which are moderated by the level of trait anxiety. Two SPPs, low registration (LR) and sensory sensitivity (SS), ADHD-traits (inattention, impulsivity, hyperactivity) and trait anxiety were measured using self-report questionnaires. Inhibitory control was operationalized as the maximum peak amplitude of N2, a neurophysiological response frequently associated with inhibition paradigms. In this study, N2 response was elicited during a 22-minute computerized distractor Continuous Performance Task (d-AX-CPT) with three inhibitory conditions (Go Distractor, NoGo Distractor, NoGo No Distractor). The research hypotheses were tested in moderated moderation models separately for LR and SS as focal predictors, N2 amplitude as the outcome, and ADHD-traits and trait anxiety as primary and secondary moderators, respectively. The results revealed that the levels of impulsivity, but not hyperactivity and inattention, and trait anxiety together moderated the effects of SPPs on N2 amplitude in Go Distractor and NoGo Distractor Conditions. In general, the findings of this study (1) highlight the importance of understanding the complex relationships among comorbid patterns that are frequently observed in diagnostic groups, (2) add new information to the existing literature on the relationship between SPPs, ADHD and anxiety using a dimensional framework.