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There are still uncertainties on the psychometric validity of the DSM-5 attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) criteria for its use in the adult population. We aim to describe the adult ADHD phenotype, to test the psychometric properties of the DSM-5 ADHD criteria, and to calculate the resulting prevalence in a population-based sample in their thirties.
A cross-sectional evaluation using the DSM-5 ADHD criteria was carried out in 3574 individuals from the 1982 Pelotas Birth Cohort. Through receiver operator curve, latent and regression analyses, we obtained parameters on construct and discriminant validity. Still, prevalence rates were calculated for different sets of criteria.
The latent analysis suggested that the adult ADHD phenotype is constituted mainly by inattentive symptoms. Also, inattention symptoms were the symptoms most associated with impairment. The best cut-off for diagnosis was four symptoms, but sensitivity and specificity for this cut-off was low. ADHD prevalence rates were 2.1% for DSM-5 ADHD criteria and 5.8% for ADHD disregarding age-of-onset criterion.
The bi-dimensional ADHD structure proposed by the DSM demonstrated both construct and discriminant validity problems when used in the adult population, since inattention is a much more relevant feature in the adult phenotype. The use of the DSM-5 criteria results in a higher prevalence of ADHD when compared to those obtained by DSM-IV, and prevalence would increase almost threefold when considering current ADHD syndrome. These findings suggest a need for further refinement of the criteria for its use in the adult population.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is frequently associated with poorer reading ability; however, the specific neuropsychological domains linking this co-occurrence remain unclear. This study evaluates information-processing characteristics as possible neuropsychological links between ADHD symptoms and RA in a community-based sample of children and early adolescents with normal IQ (⩾70).
The participants (n = 1857, aged 6–15 years, 47% female) were evaluated for reading ability (reading single words aloud) and information processing [stimulus discriminability in the two-choice reaction-time task estimated using diffusion models]. ADHD symptoms were ascertained through informant (parent) report using the Development and Well-Being Assessment (DAWBA). Verbal working memory (VWM; digit span backwards), visuospatial working memory (VSWM, Corsi Blocks backwards), sex, socioeconomic status, and IQ were included as covariates.
In a moderated mediation model, stimulus discriminability mediated the effect of ADHD on reading ability. This indirect effect was moderated by age such that a larger effect was seen among younger children.
The findings support the hypothesis that ADHD and reading ability are linked among young children via a neuropsychological deficit related to stimulus discriminability. Early interventions targeting stimulus discriminability might improve symptoms of inattention/hyperactivity and reading ability.
Research with adults suggests that anxiety is associated with poor control of executive attention. However, in children, it is unclear (a) whether anxiety disorders and non-clinical anxiety are associated with deficits in executive attention, (b) whether such deficits are specific to anxiety versus other psychiatric disorders, and (c) whether there is heterogeneity among anxiety disorders (in particular, specific phobia versus other anxiety disorders).
We examined executive attention in 860 children classified into three groups: anxiety disorders (n = 67), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD; n = 67) and no psychiatric disorder (n = 726). Anxiety disorders were subdivided into: anxiety disorders excluding specific phobia (n = 43) and specific phobia (n = 21). The Attention Network Task was used to assess executive attention, alerting and orienting.
Findings indicated heterogeneity among anxiety disorders, as children with anxiety disorders (excluding specific phobia) showed impaired executive attention, compared with disorder-free children, whereas children with specific phobia showed no executive attention deficit. Among disorder-free children, executive attention was less efficient in those with high, relative to low, levels of anxiety. There were no anxiety-related deficits in orienting or alerting. Children with ADHD not only had poorer executive attention than disorder-free children, but also higher orienting scores, less accurate responses and more variable response times.
Impaired executive attention in children (reflected by difficulty inhibiting processing of task-irrelevant information) was not fully explained by general psychopathology, but instead showed specific associations with anxiety disorders (other than specific phobia) and ADHD, as well as with high levels of anxiety symptoms in disorder-free children.
The DSM criteria for adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have not been tested in American Psychiatric Association (APA) field trials for either DSM-IV or DSM-5. This study aimed to assess: (a) the prevalence of ADHD according to DSM-5 criteria; (b) the factor solution that provides the best fit for ADHD symptoms; (c) the symptoms with the highest predictive value for clinical impairment; and (d) the best symptomatic threshold for each ADHD dimension (inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity).
Trained psychologists evaluated 4000 young adults from the 1993 Pelotas Birth Cohort Study with an instrument covering all DSM-5 ADHD criteria. A series of confirmatory factor analyses (CFAs) tested the best factor structure. Complex logistic regressions assessed differential contributions of each symptom to clinical impairment. Receiver-operating characteristic (ROC) analyses tested which would be the best symptomatic cut-off in the number of symptoms for predicting impairment.
The prevalence of DSM-5 ADHD was 3.55% [95% confidence interval (CI) 2.98–4.12]. The estimated prevalence of DSM-IV ADHD was 2.8%. CFA revealed that a bifactor model with a single general factor and two specific factors provided the best fit for DSM-5 symptoms. Inattentive symptoms continued to be the most important predictors of impairment in adults. The best cut-offs were five symptoms of inattention and four symptoms of hyperactivity/impulsivity.
Our results, combined with previous findings, suggest a 27% increase in the expected prevalence of ADHD among young adults, comparing DSM-IV to DSM-5 criteria. The DSM-5 symptomatic organization derived a similar factor structure for adults as DSM-IV symptoms. Data using DSM-5 criteria support lowering the symptomatic threshold for diagnosing ADHD in adults.
Taxometric and behavioral genetic studies suggest that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is best modeled as a dimension rather than a category. We extended these analyses by testing for the existence of putative ADHD-related deficits in basic information processing (BIP) and inhibitory-based executive function (IB-EF) in individuals in the subclinical and full clinical ranges. Consistent with the dimensional model, we predicted that ADHD-related deficits would be expressed across the full spectrum, with the degree of deficit linearly related to the severity of the clinical presentation.
A total of 1547 children (aged 6–12 years) participated in the study. The Development and Well-Being Assessment (DAWBA) was used to classify children into groups according to levels of inattention and hyperactivity independently: (1) asymptomatic, (2) subthreshold minimal, (3) subthreshold moderate and (4) clinical ADHD. Neurocognitive performance was evaluated using a two-choice reaction time task (2C-RT) and a conflict control task (CCT). BIP and IB-EF measures were derived using a diffusion model (DM) for decomposition of reaction time (RT) and error data.
Deficient BIP was found in subjects with minimal, moderate and full ADHD defined in terms of inattention (in both tasks) and hyperactivity/impulsivity dimensions (in the 2C-RT). The size of the deficit increased in a linear manner across increasingly severe presentations of ADHD. IB-EF was unrelated to ADHD.
Deficits in BIP operate at subclinical and clinical levels of ADHD. The linear nature of this relationship provides support for a dimensional model of ADHD in which diagnostic thresholds are defined in terms of clinical and societal burden rather than representing discrete pathophysiological states.
Both inhibitory-based executive functioning (IB-EF) and basic information processing (BIP) deficits are found in clinic-referred attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) samples. However, it remains to be determined whether: (1) such deficits occur in non-referred samples of ADHD; (2) they are specific to ADHD; (3) the co-morbidity between ADHD and oppositional defiant disorder/conduct disorder (ODD/CD) has additive or interactive effects; and (4) IB-EF deficits are primary in ADHD or are due to BIP deficits.
We assessed 704 subjects (age 6–12 years) from a non-referred sample using the Development and Well-Being Assessment (DAWBA) and classified them into five groups: typical developing controls (TDC; n = 378), Fear disorders (n = 90), Distress disorders (n = 57), ADHD (n = 100), ODD/CD (n = 40) and ADHD+ODD/CD (n = 39). We evaluated neurocognitive performance with a Two-Choice Reaction Time Task (2C-RT), a Conflict Control Task (CCT) and a Go/No-Go (GNG) task. We used a diffusion model (DM) to decompose BIP into processing efficiency, speed–accuracy trade-off and encoding/motor function along with variability parameters.
Poorer processing efficiency was found to be specific to ADHD. Faster encoding/motor function differentiated ADHD from TDC and from fear/distress whereas a more cautious (not impulsive) response style differentiated ADHD from both TDC and ODD/CD. The co-morbidity between ADHD and ODD/CD reflected only additive effects. All ADHD-related IB-EF classical effects were fully moderated by deficits in BIP.
Our findings challenge the IB-EF hypothesis for ADHD and underscore the importance of processing efficiency as the key specific mechanism for ADHD pathophysiology.
Preliminary research implicates threat-related attention biases in paediatric anxiety disorders. However, major questions exist concerning diagnostic specificity, effects of symptom-severity levels, and threat-stimulus exposure durations in attention paradigms. This study examines these issues in a large, community school-based sample.
A total of 2046 children (ages 6–12 years) were assessed using the Development and Well Being Assessment (DAWBA), Childhood Behavior Checklist (CBCL) and dot-probe tasks. Children were classified based on presence or absence of ‘fear-related’ disorders, ‘distress-related’ disorders, and behavioural disorders. Two dot-probe tasks, which differed in stimulus exposure, assessed attention biases for happy-face and threat-face cues. The main analysis included 1774 children.
For attention bias scores, a three-way interaction emerged among face-cue emotional valence, diagnostic group, and internalizing symptom severity (F = 2.87, p < 0.05). This interaction reflected different associations between internalizing symptom severity and threat-related attention bias across diagnostic groups. In children with no diagnosis (n = 1411, mean difference = 11.03, s.e. = 3.47, df = 1, p < 0.001) and those with distress-related disorders (n = 66, mean difference = 10.63, s.e. = 5.24, df = 1, p < 0.05), high internalizing symptoms predicted vigilance towards threat. However, in children with fear-related disorders (n = 86, mean difference = −11.90, s.e. = 5.94, df = 1, p < 0.05), high internalizing symptoms predicted an opposite tendency, manifesting as greater bias away from threat. These associations did not emerge in the behaviour-disorder group (n = 211).
The association between internalizing symptoms and biased orienting varies with the nature of developmental psychopathology. Both the form and severity of psychopathology moderates threat-related attention biases in children.
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