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Cross-Disorder Cognitive Impairments in Youth Referred for Neuropsychiatric Evaluation

  • Alysa E. Doyle (a1) (a2) (a3) (a4), Pieter J. Vuijk (a3), Nathan D. Doty (a1) (a2), Lauren M. McGrath (a5), Brian L. Willoughby (a1) (a2), Ellen H. O’Donnell (a1) (a2), H. Kent Wilson (a1) (a2), Mary K. Colvin (a1) (a2), Deanna C. Toner (a3), Kelsey E. Hudson (a3), Jessica E. Blais (a3), Hillary L. Ditmars (a3), Stephen V. Faraone (a6), Larry J. Seidman (a2) (a7) and Ellen B. Braaten (a1) (a2)...

Abstract

Objectives: Studies suggest that impairments in some of the same domains of cognition occur in different neuropsychiatric conditions, including those known to share genetic liability. Yet, direct, multi-disorder cognitive comparisons are limited, and it remains unclear whether overlapping deficits are due to comorbidity. We aimed to extend the literature by examining cognition across different neuropsychiatric conditions and addressing comorbidity. Methods: Subjects were 486 youth consecutively referred for neuropsychiatric evaluation and enrolled in the Longitudinal Study of Genetic Influences on Cognition. First, we assessed general ability, reaction time variability (RTV), and aspects of executive functions (EFs) in youth with non-comorbid forms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), mood disorders and autism spectrum disorder (ASD), as well as in youth with psychosis. Second, we determined the impact of comorbid ADHD on cognition in youth with ASD and mood disorders. Results: For EFs (working memory, inhibition, and shifting/ flexibility), we observed weaknesses in all diagnostic groups when participants’ own ability was the referent. Decrements were subtle in relation to published normative data. For RTV, weaknesses emerged in youth with ADHD and mood disorders, but trend-level results could not rule out decrements in other conditions. Comorbidity with ADHD did not impact the pattern of weaknesses for youth with ASD or mood disorders but increased the magnitude of the decrement in those with mood disorders. Conclusions: Youth with ADHD, mood disorders, ASD, and psychosis show EF weaknesses that are not due to comorbidity. Whether such cognitive difficulties reflect genetic liability shared among these conditions requires further study. (JINS, 2018, 24, 91–103)

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Corresponding author

Correspondence and reprint requests to: Alysa E. Doyle, Center for Genomic Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, 185 Cambridge Street, CPZN 6240, Boston, MA 02114. E-mail: doylea@helix.mgh.harvard.edu

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