22 January 2018
Problems in inhibitory control are regarded in Psychology as a key problem associated with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). They, however, might not be primary deficits, but instead a consequence of inattention. At least two components have been identified and dissociated in studies in regards to inhibitory control: interference suppression, responsible for controlling interference by resisting irrelevant or misleading information, and response inhibition, referring to withholding a response or overriding an ongoing behavior. Poor error awareness and self-monitoring undermine an individual’s ability to inhibit inadequate responses and change course of action. In non-social contexts, an individual depends on his own cognition to regulate his mistakes. In social contexts, however, there are many social cues that should help that individual to perceive his mistakes and inhibit inadequate responses. The processes involved in perceiving and interpreting those social cues are arguably part of a self-protection system (SPS). Individuals with ADHD not only present impulsive behaviors in social contexts, but also have difficulty perceiving their inadequate responses and overriding ongoing actions toward more appropriate ones. In this paper, we discuss that those difficulties are arguably a consequence of an impaired SPS, due to visual attention deficits and subsequent failure in perceiving and recognizing accurately negative emotions in facial expressions, especially anger. We discuss evidence that children with ADHD exhibit problems in a series of components involved in the activation of that system and advocate that the inability to identify the anger expressed by others, and thus, not experiencing the fear response that should follow, is, ultimately, what prevents them from inhibiting the ongoing inappropriate behavior, since a potential threat is not registered. Getting involved in high-risk situations, such as reckless driving, could also be a consequence of not registering a threat and thus, not experiencing fear.