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J Abnorm Child Psychol. 2001 Dec;29(6):529-40.

A comparison of the neuropsychological profiles of the DSM-IV subtypes of ADHD.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Denver, Colorado 80208, USA.


Recent research on the DSM-IV subtypes of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has demonstrated that the subtypes differ in demographic characteristics, types of functional impairment, and profiles of comorbidity with other childhood disorders. However, little research has tested whether the subtypes differ in underlying neuropsychological deficits. This study compared the neuropsychological profiles of children without ADHD (n = 82) and children who met symptom criteria for DSM-IV Predominantly Inattentive subtype (ADHD-IA; n = 67), Predominantly Hyperactive Impulsive subtype (ADHD-HI; n = 14), and Combined subtype (ADHD-C; n = 33) in the areas of processing speed, vigilance, and inhibition. We hypothesized that children with elevations of inattention symptoms (ADHD-IA and ADHD-C) would be impaired on measures of vigilance and processing speed, whereas children with significant hyperactivity/impulsivity (ADHD-HI and ADHD-C) would be impaired on measures of inhibition. Contrary to prediction, symptoms of inattention best predicted performance on all dependent measures, and ADHD-IA and ADHD-C children had similar profiles of impairment. In contrast, children with ADHD-HI were not significantly impaired on any dependent measures once subclinical symptoms of inattention were controlled. Our results do not support distinct neuropsychological deficits in ADHD-IA and ADHD-C children, and suggest that symptoms of inattention, rather than symptoms of hyperactivity/impulsivity, are associated with neuropsychological impairment.

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