Examining Differences in Executive Functioning in ADHD and Anxiety in an ODD Sample

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Virginia Tech


Executive functioning (EF) has been gaining attention recently in the area of child psychopathology and EF deficits have been hypothesized to be present in a variety of these disorders. Children with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and anxiety disorders (AD) all experience difficulties at home, with friends, and at school, some of which may be related to deficits in EF. The proposed study is designed to determine whether specific EF deficits are associated with ADHD and AD when they are comorbid with ODD. Children recruited for an ODD treatment study completed an emotional Stroop task and their mothers completed the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function (BRIEF; Gioia, Isquith, Guy, & Kenworthy, 2000). The present study included 49 children with ODD who had comorbid ADHD (n = 22) or comorbid AD (n = 27), but not both. The ODD/ADHD group exhibited significantly more EF deficits on the MI than the ODD/AD group when gender and corresponding symptoms of ADHD and AD were controlled for. However, no significant differences were found on the emotional Stroop or the BRI scale of the BRIEF suggesting that EF deficits may not be clearly differentiated in samples of ADHD and AD youth who are also comorbid with ODD. It is recommended that future studies explore executive dysfunction in pure ODD, ADHD, and AD samples to better identify possible differences that might be useful in designing interventions for children who have EF deficits associated with these disorders.



anxiety, ADHD, executive functioning, ODD