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A pilot study of neuropsychological function in girls with ADHD.

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  • 1Pediatric Psychopharmacology Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston 02114, USA.



Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is known to have neuropsychological consequences that are evident from psychological tests and from measures of school failure. However, most available data are based on studies of boys. Our goal was to assess, in this pilot study, whether ADHD in girls expressed neuropsychological features similar to those found in boys.


Subjects were 43 girls, aged 6 to 17 years, with DSM-III-R ADHD and 36 comparison girls without ADHD. Information on neuropsychological performance was obtained in a standardized manner blind to clinical status.


Girls with ADHD were significantly more impaired on estimated IQ than comparison girls despite being matched on other demographic variables. Relative to comparison girls, the girls with ADHD were also significantly more impaired on the Freedom From Distractibility subtests of the WISC-R and on arithmetic and reading achievement scores. Although their mean performance on executive function tests was generally poorer than that of control girls, there were no statistically significant differences on these measures.


Girls with ADHD have impairments in some tests of attention and achievement. However, neuropsychological performance on tests of executive function was less impaired than that previously documented in boys with ADHD. If confirmed in a larger sample, these findings suggest that girls with ADHD may be less vulnerable to executive function deficits than boys.

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