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J Abnorm Child Psychol. 2019 May 14. doi: 10.1007/s10802-019-00559-w. [Epub ahead of print]

Using Repeated-Measures Data to Make Stronger Tests of the Association between Executive Function Skills and Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Symptomatology in Early Childhood.

Author information

1
RTI International, 3040 Cornwallis Road, Research Triangle Park, NC, 27709, USA. mwilloughby@rti.org.
2
RTI International, 3040 Cornwallis Road, Research Triangle Park, NC, 27709, USA.
3
New York University, New York, NY, USA.

Abstract

Theoretical models of Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have long implicated executive function (EF) skills as contributing to the etiology, maintenance, and changes in ADHD symptomatology over time. Although there is interest making within-person inferences (i.e., deficits in EF skills give rise to ADHD behaviors), most of the evidence has been derived from studies that conflated between- and within-person sources of variance. Here, we use repeated-measures data to test within-person association between EF skills and ADHD behaviors. Participants included 1160 children from the Family Life Project, an ongoing prospective longitudinal study of child development in low-income, nonmetropolitan communities. We tested the magnitude of the association between EF skills and ADHD behaviors when children were 3, 4, and 5 years old. Consistent with meta-analyses, unadjusted bivariate associations between EF and ADHD (which reflect combined between- and within-person variation) were of moderate magnitude (rs = -0.20 to -0.30). However, after controlling for all time-invariant, between-person sources of variation, the within-person associations between EF skills and ADHD behaviors were weak (βs - 0.04 to -0.05, ps = 0.01). These results suggest that EF skills may contribute less prominently to ADHD behaviors in early childhood than is commonly assumed and provoke broader questions about developmental models of ADHD.

KEYWORDS:

Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder; Early childhood; Executive function; Fixed-effects analysis; Structural equation modeling

PMID:
31089981
DOI:
10.1007/s10802-019-00559-w

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