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Biol Psychiatry. 1998 Aug 15;44(4):260-8.

Neuropsychological function in adults with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

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



Recent studies indicate that attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) persists into adulthood, but little is known about the neuropsychological features of adult ADHD. Our objective was to assess neuropsychological functioning in adults with ADHD with a battery of executive function tests.


Subjects were 64 unmedicated adults, 19-59 years of age, with DSM-III-R ADHD of childhood onset who met criteria for ADHD when referred in adulthood and 73 non-ADHD controls of similar age and gender. Information on neuropsychological performance was obtained in a standardized manner blind to clinical status.


Compared with controls, adults with ADHD were significantly impaired on measures of vigilance, semantic encoding for verbal memory, and written arithmetic, irrespective of age, gender, psychiatric comorbidity, or presence of learning disability. Despite comparable educational level and IQ, ADHD adults had a trend to lower occupational attainment and had significantly more academic problems in school.


These executive, attention, and achievement dysfunctions demonstrated in adults with ADHD provide additional support for the validity of the syndrome in adults.

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