Neuropsychological abilities of preschool-aged children who display hyperactivity and/or oppositional-defiant behavior problems

Sara D. Youngwirth, Elizabeth A. Harvey, Elizabeth C. Gates, Rebecca L. Hashim, Julie L. Friedman-Weieneth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


This study focused on gaining a better understanding of the neuropsychological abilities of preschool-aged children who show elevated levels of hyperactivity and oppositional-defiance. It examined the performance of children aged 48 to 67 months on tests of attention/executive function, language, memory, and sensorimotor abilities, as measured by the NEPSY and Conners' K-CPT. Two hundred thirty-seven children were divided into four subgroups based on mothers' report of behavior using rating scales and a diagnostic interview: hyperactive only (HYP), oppositional-defiant only (OD), hyperactive and oppositional-defiant (HYP/OD), and nonproblem. Children in the HYP/OD group scored significantly worse than nonproblem children on four of nine subtests on the NEPSY, including one test of executive function, one test of language comprehension, and both tests of short-term verbal memory. However, only the test of executive function (Statue) showed significant predictive power, and, while specificity of this subtest was good, sensitivity was poor. On the K-CPT, a continuous performance test, children in both the HYP and HYP/OD groups performed worse than children in the OD and nonproblem groups. When the NEPSY Statue subtest and the K-CPT were used together, overall predictive power was.74. Results suggest that neuropsychological deficits can be observed among preschool children with hyperactivity, particularly when comorbid oppositional-defiance is present; however, moderate predictive power suggests that these tests should be used in conjunction with other methods of assessment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)422-443
Number of pages22
JournalChild Neuropsychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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