4 years ago

An Evaluation of the Specificity of Executive Function Impairment in Developmental Psychopathology

Deficits in executive function (EF) are common in neuropsychiatric disorders, but the specificity of these deficits remains unclear. The aim of the current study was to elucidate the pattern of EF impairment across psychopathologies in children and adolescents. We assessed associations among components of EF with dimensions of psychopathology, including an overall psychopathology factor. Method Participants (8-21 years) were from the Philadelphia Neurodevelopmental Cohort (n=9,498). Data from a structured clinical screening interview were reduced into five dimensional domains using factor analyses: overall psychopathology, anxious-misery, fear, externalizing, and psychosis. EF components of attentional vigilance, response inhibition, conceptual flexibility, and working memory were assessed. Associations between the clinical dimensions and both general EF ability and specific EF components were examined. Results EF ability showed both common and domain-specific associations with clinical symptoms. General EF was directly associated with general psychopathology, anxious-misery, and psychosis domains, but not with the fear or externalizing domains. For the EF subcomponents, differences emerged in the magnitude and direction of association between the components and clinical domains. Poorer EF was typically associated with increased symptoms across clinical domains; however, in some instances, better EF ability was associated with greater symptom burden, particularly in the fear domain. Conclusion EF has widespread associations with psychopathology in youth. Findings reveal some overlap in the type of EF impairment across clinical phenotypes, as indicated by similar patterns of associations between some clinical symptoms and EF. However, findings also revealed domain-specific associations with EF that differed across EF components and clinical domains.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S089085671731660X

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