INTRODUCTION One of the commonest neurological development disorders is the syndrome of inattention with hyperactivity, ADHD. The complex neurobiological network which intervenes in paying attention permits us to maintain a basal state of alertness, to focalize and maintain attention for long periods, select the stimulus-signal required and analyze its components, and also to simultaneously carry out processes of input-output and performance (tutorial, controlling). DEVELOPMENT Damage to the various systems participating in 'paying attention' leads to a syndrome of inattention, with or without hyperactivity. The distinction into clinical sub-types (combined, mainly lacking attention or mainly hyperactive and impulsive) gives a primary differentiation of the syndrome. However, from the neuropsychological point of view, some degree of heterogeneity within the groups which defines academic behaviour and conduct may also be recognized. This type of study permits a more specific neuro-cognitive and pharmacological approach. Some clinical characteristics of the syndrome of inattention improve with different drugs, such as the state of alterness (methylphenidate), impulsivity (pipamperone) and selective attention (tiapride). However, this treatment is symptomatic and in most cases is useful to accompany the ultimate biological development of the neocortical control mechanisms. CONCLUSIONS A neuro-cognitive approach which permits acquisition of habits of control, functional strategies, sequential planning of activities and per- and post-functional surveillance is fundamental. The EFE programme for training executive functions is directed towards working with the damaged processing mechanisms in each neuropsychological subtype.