Assessment of goal-directed behavior and prospective memory in adult ADHD with an online 3D videogame simulating everyday tasks

Jussi Jylkkä*, Liisa Ritakallio, Liya Merzon, Suvi Kangas, Matthias Kliegel, Sascha Zuber, Alexandra Hering, Matti Laine, Juha Salmi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Abstract

The diagnosis of ADHD is based on real-life attentional-executive deficits, but they are harder to detect in adults than in children and objective quantitative measures reflecting these everyday problems are lacking. We developed an online version of EPELI 3D videogame for naturalistic and scalable assessment of goal-directed action and prospective memory in adult ADHD. In EPELI, participants perform instructed everyday chores in a virtual apartment from memory. Our pre-registered hypothesis predicted weaker EPELI performances in adult ADHD compared to controls. The sample comprised 112 adults with ADHD and 255 neurotypical controls comparable in age (mean 31, SD = 8 years), gender distribution (71% females) and educational level. Using web-browser, the participants performed EPELI and other cognitive tasks, including Conner’s Continuous Performance Test (CPT). They also filled out questionnaires probing everyday executive performance and kept a 5-day diary of everyday prospective memory errors. Self-reported strategy use in the EPELI game was also examined. The ADHD participants’ self-ratings indicated clearly more everyday executive problems than in the controls. Differences in the EPELI game were mostly seen in the ADHD participants’ higher rates of task-irrelevant actions. Gender differences and a group × gender interaction was found in the number of correctly performed tasks, indicating poorer performance particularly in ADHD males. Discriminant validity of EPELI was similar to CPT. Strategy use strongly predicted EPELI performance in both groups. The results demonstrate the feasibility of EPELI for online assessment and highlight the role of impulsivity as a distinctive everyday life problem in adult ADHD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9299
JournalScientific Reports
Volume13
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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