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The Research Domain Criteria initiative was launched by the US National Institute of Mental Health to establish a multi-level framework for understanding psychological constructs relevant to human psychiatric disorders, and identified ‘effort valuation/willingness to work’ as a clinically useful construct worthy of further study. This construct encompasses the processes by which the cost(s) of obtaining an outcome are calculated, and the tendency to overcome response costs to obtain a reinforcer. The current study aims to examine effort valuation as a correlate of psychopathology in children and adults, and the moderating effects of sex on this relationship.
Participants were 1215 children aged 6–12 and their parents (n = 1044). All participants completed the Effort Expenditure for Rewards Task as a measure of effort expenditure. Child psychopathology was measured via the Child Behavior Checklist, while adult psychopathology was measured via the Adult Self Report. Additionally, the Social Adjustment Inventory for Children and Adolescents and Injury Behavior Checklist were used to examine child social impairments/problem behaviors.
In children, significant interactions between reward sensitivity and sex were observed in association with anxiety and thought problems, specifically at low reward sensitivity levels. In adults, main effects of effort expenditure were seen in drug and alcohol abuse, where higher effort was associated with higher degrees of abuse.
These results establish effort valuation as a relevant psychological construct for understanding psychopathology, but with different profiles of associated psychopathology across sex in children and adults.
Chromosome 22q11.2 deletion syndrome (22q11DS) is associated with high rates of psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia in up to 30% of individuals with the syndrome. Despite this, we know relatively little about trajectories and predictors of persistence of psychiatric disorders from middle childhood to early adulthood. Accordingly, we followed youth over four timepoints, every 3 years, to assess long-term trajectories of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, mood, and psychosis-spectrum disorders (PSDs), as well as medication usage.
Eighty-seven youth with 22q11DS and 65 controls between the ages of 9 and 15 years at the first timepoint (T1; mean age 11.88 ± 2.1) were followed for 9 years (mean age of 21.22 ± 2.01 years at T4). Baseline cognitive, clinical, and familial predictors of persistence were identified for each class of psychiatric disorders.
Baseline age and parent-rated hyperactivity scores predicted ADHD persistence [area under curve (AUC) = 0.81]. The presence of family conflict predicted persistence of anxiety disorders (ADs) whereas parent ratings of child internalizing symptoms predicted persistence of both anxiety and mood disorders (MDs) (AUC = 0.84 and 0.83, respectively). Baseline prodromal symptoms predicted persistent and emergent PSDs (AUC = 0.83). Parent-reported use of anti-depressants/anxiolytics increased significantly from T1 to T4.
Psychiatric, behavioral, and cognitive functioning during late childhood and early adolescence successfully predicted children with 22q11DS who were at highest risk for persistent psychiatric illness in young adulthood. These findings emphasize the critical importance of early assessments and interventions in youth with 22q11DS.
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