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Executive function in children with Tourette syndrome and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: Cross-disorder or unique impairments?

Openneer, T. J. C., Forde, N. J., Akkermans, S. E. A., Naaijen, J., Buitelaar, J. K., Hoekstra, P. J. & Dietrich, A., Mar-2020, In : Cortex. 124, p. 176-187 12 p.

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  • Executive function in children with Tourette syndrome and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder

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DOI

Findings of executive functioning deficits in Tourette syndrome (TS) have so far been inconsistent, possibly due to methodological challenges of previous studies, such as the use of small sample sizes and not accounting for comorbid attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), or medication use. We aimed to address these issues by examining several areas of executive functioning (response inhibition, attentional flexibility, cognitive control, and working memory) and psychomotor speed in 174 8-to-12-year-old children with TS [n = 34 without (TS−ADHD) and n = 26 with comorbid ADHD (TS+ADHD)], ADHD without tics (ADHD−TS; n = 54), and healthy controls (n = 60). We compared executive functioning measures and psychomotor speed between these groups and related these to ADHD severity across the whole sample, and tic severity across the TS groups. Children with TS+ADHD, but not TS−ADHD, made more errors on the cognitive control task than healthy children, while TS−ADHD had a slower psychomotor speed compared to healthy controls. The ADHD group showed impairment in cognitive control and working memory versus healthy controls. Moreover, higher ADHD severity was associated with poorer cognitive control and working memory across all groups; there was no relation between any of the executive functioning measures and tic severity. OCD severity or medication use did not influence our results. In conclusion, we found little evidence for executive function impairments inherent to TS. Executive function problems appear to manifest predominantly in relation to ADHD symptomatology, with both cross-disorder and unique features of neuropsychological functioning when cross-comparing TS and ADHD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)176-187
Number of pages12
JournalCortex
Volume124
Publication statusPublished - Mar-2020

    Keywords

  • Tourette syndrome, ADHD, Cognitive control, Executive functioning, Working memory, OBSESSIVE-COMPULSIVE SCALE, TIC-SEVERITY, WORKING-MEMORY, HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER, COGNITIVE FLEXIBILITY, INHIBITORY CONTROL, MOTOR-SKILLS, RELIABILITY, DEFICIT

ID: 133400716