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Cool and hot executive function problems in young children: Linking self-regulation processes to emerging clinical symptoms

Anning, Kate L., Langley, Kate ORCID:, Hobson, Christopher and van Goozen, Stephanie H.M. ORCID: 2024. Cool and hot executive function problems in young children: Linking self-regulation processes to emerging clinical symptoms. European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 10.1007/s00787-023-02344-z

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Self-regulation (SR) difficulties are implicated in a wide range of disorders which develop in childhood, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), oppositional defiance disorder (ODD), anxiety and depression. However, the integration of the existing research evidence is challenging because of varying terminology and the wide range of tasks used, as well as the heterogeneity and comorbidity within and across diagnostic categories. The current study used the Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) framework to guide the examination of different SR processes in young children showing a wide range of symptomatology. Children (aged 4–8) referred by teachers for moderate-to-high conduct, hyperactivity and/or emotional problems at school (assessed using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) subscales; n = 212), and children in SDQ typical ranges (n = 30) completed computerised cognitive control and decision-making tasks. Parents completed questionnaires to assess ADHD, ODD, anxiety and depression symptoms (n = 191). Compared to children with no teacher-reported difficulties, those with moderate-to-high problems showed poorer visuomotor control and decision-making. A factor analysis revealed that task variables adhered to RDoC dimensions and predicted variance in specific disorders: difficulties in cognitive control predicted ADHD symptoms, low reward-seeking was associated with depression and high reward-seeking was associated with ODD. This study highlights how the assessment of cognitive processes positioned within the RDoC framework can inform our understanding of disorder-specific and transdiagnostic difficulties in SR which are associated with diverse clinical symptoms in children.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: In Press
Schools: Psychology
Publisher: Springer
ISSN: 1018-8827
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 11 December 2023
Date of Acceptance: 28 November 2023
Last Modified: 09 Jan 2024 13:10

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