Cognitive performance in children and adolescents with psychopathology traits: A cross-sectional multicohort study in the general population

Elisabet Blok, Isabel Schuurmans, Anne J. Tijburg, Manon Hillegers, Elize Verhoeff, Ryan Muetzel, Henning Tiemeier, Tonya White*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Psychopathology and cognitive development are closely related. Assessing the relationship between multiple domains of psychopathology and cognitive performance can elucidate which cognitive tasks are related to specific domains of psychopathology. This can help build theory and improve clinical decision-making in the future. In this study, we included 13,841 children and adolescents drawn from two large population-based samples (Generation R and ABCD studies). We assessed the cross-sectional relationship between three psychopathology domains (internalizing, externalizing, dysregulation profile (DP)) and four cognitive domains (vocabulary, fluid reasoning, working memory, and processing speed) and the full-scale intelligence quotient. Lastly, differential associations between symptoms of psychopathology and cognitive performance by sex were assessed. Results indicated that internalizing symptoms were related to worse performance in working memory and processing speed, but better performance in the verbal domain. Externalizing and DP symptoms were related to poorer global cognitive performance. Notably, those in the DP subgroup had a 5.0 point lower IQ than those without behavioral problems. Cognitive performance was more heavily affected in boys than in girls given comparable levels of psychopathology. Taken together, we provide evidence for globally worse cognitive performance in children and adolescents with externalizing and DP symptoms, with those in the DP subgroup being most heavily affected.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalDevelopment and Psychopathology
Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Sophia Children’s Hospital Research Foundation (SSWO) Project (TW, #S18-68, #S20-48) and the Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development (ZonMw) TOP (TW, project number 91211021). The general design of the Generation R Study is made possible by financial support from the Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, ZonMw, the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), and the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, and is conducted by the Erasmus Medical Center in close collaboration with the Faculty of Social Sciences of the Erasmus University Rotterdam, and the Stichting Trombosedienst & Artsenlaboratorium Rijnmond (STAR-MDC), Rotterdam.

Funding Information:
Data used in the preparation of this article were obtained from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study ( ), held in the NIMH Data Archive (NDA). This is a multisite, longitudinal study designed to recruit more than 10,000 children age 9–10 and follow them over 10 years into early adulthood. The ABCD Study® is supported by the National Institutes of Health and additional federal partners under award numbers U01DA041048, U01DA050989, U01DA051016, U01DA041022, U01DA051018, U01DA051037, U01DA050987, U01DA041174, U01DA041106, U01DA041117, U01DA041028, U01DA041134, U01DA050988, U01DA051039, U01DA041156, U01DA041025, U01DA041120, U01DA051038, U01DA041148, U01DA041093, U01DA041089, U24DA041123, U24DA041147. A full list of supporters is available at . A listing of participating sites and a complete listing of the study investigators can be found at . ABCD consortium investigators designed and implemented the study and/or provided data but did not necessarily participate in analysis or writing of this report. This manuscript reflects the views of the authors and may not reflect the opinions or views of the NIH or ABCD consortium investigators. The ABCD data repository grows and changes over time. The ABCD data used in this report came from . SM

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press.


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