Sustained and selective attention of 30 fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-grade students with learning disabilities (LD) and 20 controls were compared. A continuous performance test (CPT) yielded no differences for students with LD and controls, suggesting similar ability for both groups in sustaining attention and inhibiting impulsive responding. Subjects with LD made more errors than controls on a selective attention task when letter distractors were adjacent to the target letter but not when they were distant, and more correct responses than controls when facilitating letters were adjacent to the target, suggesting that students with LD are less able to narrow the focus of their attention. Longer response times by students with LD indicate that they have slower information-processing skills than controls. Regrouping students according to teacher ratings for attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) yielded the customary impulsive response set on the CPT and more errors on the selective attention task, but no differences on response times for students with ADHD. LD students with ADHD made more errors than LD students without ADHD when letter distractors were adjacent to the target letter.
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