Sustained attention at age 5 predicts attention-related problems at age 9

Anne Martin, Rachel A. Razza, Jeanne Brooks-Gunn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


This study tested whether two aspects of sustained attention (focused attention and lack of impulsivity) measured at child age 5 predicted attention problems reported by mothers and teachers at age 9. Because lack of impulsivity reflects the executive control network, and ADHD is commonly characterized as a deficit in executive function, it was expected to have more predictive power than focused attention. Data were drawn from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study. Focused attention and lack of impulsivity, measured in a laboratory task at age 5, were equally predictive of attention problems at age 9, including the mother's report of whether the child had been diagnosed with ADHD. However, age 9 teacher-reported hyperactivity was not predicted by focused attention, and only marginally predicted by lack of impulsivity. Results complement an earlier study by Razza, Martin, and Brooks-Gunn showing that both focused attention and lack of impulsivity at age 5 predicted children's approaches to learning at age 9.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)413-419
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Development
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2012


  • ADHD
  • attention deficit
  • impulsive behavior
  • sustained attention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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