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Executive functioning and emotion recognition in youth with oppositional defiant disorder and/or conduct disorder

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Renee Kleine Deters, Jilly Naaijen, Mireia Rosa, Pascal M. Aggensteiner, Tobias Banaschewski, Melanie C. Saam, Ulrike M.E. Schulze, Arjun Sethi, Michael C. Craig, Ilyas Sagar-Ouriaghli, Paramala Santosh, Josefina Castro-Fornieles, María J. Penzol, Celso Arango, Julia E. Werhahn, Daniel Brandeis, Barbara Franke, Jeffrey Glennon, Jan K. Buitelaar, Pieter J. Hoekstra & 1 more Andrea Dietrich

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)539-551
Number of pages13
JournalWorld Journal of Biological Psychiatry
Issue number7
Accepted/In press1 Jan 2020
Published8 Aug 2020

King's Authors


Objectives: Executive functioning and emotion recognition may be impaired in disruptive youth, yet findings in oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) and conduct disorder (CD) are inconsistent. We examined these functions related to ODD and CD, accounting for comorbid attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and internalising symptoms. Methods: We compared executive functioning (visual working memory, visual attention, inhibitory control) and emotion recognition between youth (8–18 years old, 123 boys, 55 girls) with ODD (n = 44) or CD (with/without ODD, n = 48), and healthy controls (n = 86). We also related ODD, CD, and ADHD symptom counts and internalising symptomatology to all outcome measures, as well as executive functioning to emotion recognition. Results: Visual working memory and inhibitory control were impaired in the ODD and CD groups versus healthy controls. Anger, disgust, fear, happiness, and sadness recognition were impaired in the CD group; only anger recognition was impaired in the ODD group. Deficits were not explained by comorbid ADHD or internalising symptoms. Visual working memory was associated with recognition of all basic emotions. Conclusions: Our findings challenge the view that neuropsychological impairments in youth with ODD/CD are driven by comorbid ADHD and suggest possible distinct neurocognitive mechanisms in CD versus ODD.

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