Do executive function deficits differentiate between adolescents with ADHD and Oppositional Defiant/Conduct Disorder? A neuropsychological study using the Six Elements Test and Hayling Sentence Completion Test
Two neuropsychological measures of executive functions--Six Elements Tests (SET) and Hayling Sentence Completion Test (HSCT)--were administered to 110 adolescents, aged 12-15 years. Participants comprised four groups: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) only (n = 35). ADHD and Oppositional Defiant Disorder/Conduct Disorder (ODD/CD) (n = 38), ODD/CD only (n = 11), and a normal community control group (n = 26). Results indicated that adolescents with ADHD performed significantly worse on both the SET and HSCT than those without ADHD, whether or not they also had ODD/CD. The adolescents with ADHD and with comorbid ADHD and ODD/CD were significantly more impaired in their ability to generate strategies and to monitor their ongoing behavior compared with age-matched controls and adolescents with ODD/CD only. It is argued that among adolescents with clinically significant levels of externalizing behavior problems, executive function deficits are specific to those with ADHD. The findings support the sensitivity of these two relatively new tests of executive functions and their ecological validity in tapping into everyday situations, which are potentially problematic for individuals with ADHD.