Neuropsychological functioning of individuals at clinical evaluation of adult ADHD

Nana Guo*, Anselm B. M. Fuermaier, Janneke Koerts, Bernhard W Mueller, Katerina Diers, Aaron Mroß, Christian Mette, Lara Tucha, Oliver Tucha

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
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OBJECTIVES: Numerous studies showed that adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) suffer from impairments in a range of cognitive functions when compared to healthy controls. However, only little is known about the neuropsychological functions when compared to various clinical control groups and whether a distinct neuropsychological profile can be identified for adult ADHD.

METHOD: This retrospective study examined data of 199 outpatients referred for clinical evaluation of adult ADHD, allocated either to an ADHD group (n = 78) or to one of two clinical comparison groups, depending on whether they show indications (n = 71) or no indications (n = 50) for the presence of psychiatric disorders other than ADHD. All individuals performed a comprehensive neuropsychological test battery.

RESULTS: Data analysis revealed impairments in a range of cognitive functions in a substantial number of patients of all three groups. However, profiles of neuropsychological impairments were similar between groups. Furthermore, significant small- to medium-sized correlations between basic and higher-order cognitive functions were revealed in the ADHD group and the clinical comparison group with indications for psychiatric disorders other than ADHD.

CONCLUSION: Neuropsychological impairments are prominent in psychiatric outpatients seeking a clinical evaluation of adult ADHD but are not specific for ADHD. It is concluded that neuropsychological test performance may have limited incremental value to support the psychiatric differential diagnosis. Furthermore, a clinical trajectory may need to take into account that deficits in a range of higher-order cognitive functions can be substantially explained by deficits in basic cognitive functions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)877–891
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Neural Transmission
Early online date23-Dec-2020
Publication statusPublished - Jul-2021


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