The Course of Neurocognitive Functioning and Prediction of Behavioral Outcome of ADHD Affected and Unaffected Siblings

M. van Lieshout, M. Luman, L. J.S. Schweren, J. W.R. Twisk, S. V. Faraone, D. J. Heslenfeld, C. A. Hartman, P. J. Hoekstra, B. Franke, J. K. Buitelaar, N. N.J. Rommelse, J. Oosterlaan

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Longitudinal studies on the course of neurocognitive functioning of children with ADHD and their unaffected siblings are scarce. Also, it is unclear to what extent that course is related to ADHD outcomes. A carefully phenotyped large sample of 838 Caucasian participants (ADHD-combined type: n = 339, unaffected siblings: n = 271, controls: n = 228; mean age at baseline = 11.4 years, mean age at follow-up = 17.3 years, SD = 3.2) was used to investigate differences in the course of neurocognitive functioning of ADHD affected and unaffected siblings versus controls, and to investigate the relationship between neurocognitive change and ADHD outcomes. At baseline, an aggregated measure of overall neurocognitive functioning and eight neurocognitive measures of working memory, timing (speed/variability), motor control, and intelligence were investigated. Outcomes at follow-up were dimensional measures of ADHD symptom severity and the Kiddie-Global Assessment Scale (K-GAS) for overall functioning. At follow up, affected and unaffected siblings trended to, or fully caught up with performance levels of controls on four (44.4%) and five (55.6%) of the nine dependent variables, respectively. In contrast, performance in remaining key neurocognitive measures (i.e. verbal working memory, variability in responding) remained impaired at follow-up. Change in neurocognitive functioning was not related to ADHD outcomes. Our results question the etiological link between neurocognitive deficits and ADHD outcomes in adolescents and young adults.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)405-419
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Issue number3
Early online date6 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2019


  • ADHD
  • Course
  • Neurocognitive functioning
  • Overall functioning
  • Symptom severity

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