Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2010 Nov;67(11):1159-67. doi: 10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2010.139.

Separation of cognitive impairments in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder into 2 familial factors.

Author information

  • 1MRC Social, Genetic, and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, London SE5 8AF, United Kingdom.



Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is associated with widespread cognitive impairments, but it is not known whether the apparent multiple impairments share etiological roots or separate etiological pathways exist. A better understanding of the etiological pathways is important for the development of targeted interventions and for identification of suitable intermediate phenotypes for molecular genetic investigations.


To determine, by using a multivariate familial factor analysis approach, whether 1 or more familial factors underlie the slow and variable reaction times, impaired response inhibition, and choice impulsivity associated with ADHD.


An ADHD and control sibling-pair design.


Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.


A total of 1265 participants, aged 6 to 18 years: 464 probands with ADHD and 456 of their siblings (524 with combined-subtype ADHD), and 345 control participants.


Performance on a 4-choice reaction time task, a go/no-go inhibition task, and a choice-delay task.


The final model consisted of 2 familial factors. The larger factor, reflecting 85% of the familial variance of ADHD, captured 98% to 100% of the familial influences on mean reaction time and reaction time variability. The second, smaller factor, reflecting 13% of the familial variance of ADHD, captured 62% to 82% of the familial influences on commission and omission errors on the go/no-go task. Choice impulsivity was excluded in the final model because of poor fit.


The findings suggest the existence of 2 familial pathways to cognitive impairments in ADHD and indicate promising cognitive targets for future molecular genetic investigations. The familial distinction between the 2 cognitive impairments is consistent with recent theoretical models--a developmental model and an arousal-attention model--of 2 separable underlying processes in ADHD. Future research that tests the familial model within a developmental framework may inform developmentally sensitive interventions.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Silverchair Information Systems Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk