A failure of sleep-dependent consolidation of visuoperceptual procedural learning in young adults with ADHD

Ranin Ballan, Simon J. Durrant, Robert Stickgold, Alexandra Morgan, Dara S. Manoach, Yafit Gabay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


ADHD has been associated with cortico-striatal dysfunction that may lead to procedural memory abnormalities. Sleep plays a critical role in consolidating procedural memories, and sleep problems are an integral part of the psychopathology of ADHD. This raises the possibility that altered sleep processes characterizing those with ADHD could contribute to their skill-learning impairments. On this basis, the present study tested the hypothesis that young adults with ADHD have altered sleep-dependent procedural memory consolidation. Participants with ADHD and neurotypicals were trained on a visual discrimination task that has been shown to benefit from sleep. Half of the participants were tested after a 12-h break that included nocturnal sleep (sleep condition), whereas the other half were tested after a 12-h daytime break that did not include sleep (wakefulness condition) to assess the specific contribution of sleep to improvement in task performance. Despite having a similar degree of initial learning, participants with ADHD did not improve in the visual discrimination task following a sleep interval compared to neurotypicals, while they were on par with neurotypicals during the wakefulness condition. These findings represent the first demonstration of a failure in sleep-dependent consolidation of procedural learning in young adults with ADHD. Such a failure is likely to disrupt automatic control routines that are normally provided by the non-declarative memory system, thereby increasing the load on attentional resources of individuals with ADHD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number499
JournalTranslational Psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Biological Psychiatry


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