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Study: Comparing Iconic Memory in Children with and without ADHD

Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) struggle to process information due to lack of attention and inefficient storage and retrieval ability. Therefore, these children experience memory impairment.

Although visual memory has been previously studied in children with ADHD, iconic memory in these children has been less evaluated. Amadi et al. (2013) studied the possibility of iconic memory impairment in children with ADHD, and compared the results with that of children without ADHD.

Iconic memory is a type of sensory memory that lasts just milliseconds before fading. It involves the memory of visual stimuli, and is part of the visual memory system which also includes visual short-term memory and visual long-term memory. Cherry (2020) explains iconic memory with an example: you wake up at night to get a drink of water and turn the kitchen light on. Almost instantly, the bulb burns out and leaves you in darkness, but you can briefly envision what the room looked like from the glimpse you were able to get.

The experimental group of Amadi et al.’s study was thirty 6-9 year-old children who were referred to the Imam Hosein Clinic, and were diagnosed as having ADHD by a psychiatrist during 2011-2012. The subjects were interviewed clinically by a psychologist; and in order to diagnose ADHD, their parents and teachers were asked to complete the child symptom inventory-4 (CSI-4). The comparison group were thirty 6-9 year-old children without ADHD. Subjects’ iconic memory was assessed using an iconic memory task. Repeated measure ANOVA was used for data analysis.

Based on the iconic memory test, the mean score of ADHD children was significantly lower than that of children without ADHD (P0.001). Moreover, the performance of the experimental group differed significantly when the duration of the presentation was increased from 50 ms to 100 ms as compared to the control group (P0.001). The number of correct answers increased in the experimental group as the duration of presentation increased. However, children with ADHD scored less than children without ADHD at 50 ms as well as 100 ms. The means of ADHD children increased as the duration of the presentation increased from 50 ms to 100 ms to 300 ms (P<0.001).

Amadi et al. concluded that iconic memory is weaker in children with ADHD than children without ADHD.

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Ahmadi, N., Goodarzi, M. A., Hadianfard, H., Mohamadi, N., Farid, D., Kholasehzadeh, G., Sakhvidi, M. N., & Hemyari, C. (2013). Comparing iconic memory in children with and without attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Iranian Journal of Psychiatry8(3), 131–137.

Cherry, K. (2020). Iconic memory and visual stimuli. Verywellind.com.