The effects of performance-based rewards on neurophysiological correlates of stimulus, error, and feedback processing in children with ADHD


  • Keri Shiels Rosch,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychology, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York, USA
    • Address correspondence to: Keri Shiels Rosch, Kennedy Krieger Institute, 716 North Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21230, USA. E-mail:

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  • Larry W. Hawk Jr.

    1. Department of Psychology, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York, USA
    2. Center for Children and Families, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York, USA
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  • Keri Shiels Rosch is now at the Kennedy Krieger Institute, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. This research was supported in part by grants from the Mark Diamond Research Foundation awarded to Keri Shiels Rosch and the National Institute of Mental Health (R01MH069434-05) awarded to Larry W. Hawk. We thank Nicholas Albino for assistance with data collection, Mark Kutgowski for computer programming support, and John Curtin, Sidney Segalowitz, Craig Colder, Jerry Richards, William Pelham, Rebecca Houston, and Peter Pfordresher for their assistance with the study design and feedback regarding data reduction, analysis, and interpretation.


Rewards have been shown to improve behavior and cognitive processes implicated in attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but the information-processing mechanisms by which these improvements occur remain unclear. We examined the effect of performance-based rewards on ERPs related to processing of the primary task stimuli, errors, and feedback in children with ADHD and typically developing controls. Participants completed a flanker task containing blocks with and without performance-based rewards. Children with ADHD showed reduced amplitude of ERPs associated with processing of the flanker stimuli (P3) and errors (ERN, Pe), but did not differ in feedback-processing (FRN). Rewards enhanced flanker-related P3 amplitude similarly across groups and error-related Pe amplitude differentially for children with ADHD. These findings suggest that rewards may improve cognitive deficits in children with ADHD through enhanced processing of relevant stimuli and increased error evaluation.