Neuropsychological heterogeneity in preschool ADHD: Investigating the interplay between cognitive, affective and motivation-based forms of regulation.


There is a trend toward diagnosing ADHD prior to school entry. Despite this, there is a lack of studies investigating ADHD in the preschool years, at least studies including a large range of different neuropsychological functions. Our knowledge of the independent effects of different neuropsychological functions in relation to preschool ADHD is therefore limited. In order to address this issue, the present study investigated cognitive, affective, and motivation-based regulation in relation to ADHD symptoms in 104 preschool children (age M = 67.33 months, SD = 10.10; 65 % boys). Results showed that these regulatory processes were all significantly related to ADHD symptoms and that most of these relations remained after controlling for comorbid conduct problems. Most previous preschool studies have only included cognitive regulation, and to some extent motivation-based regulation. By also including affective regulation, we were able to explain a larger proportion of the variance in ADHD symptoms. However, it should be noted that the amount of variance explained was still small in comparison with what has been found in previous studies of school-aged children. This finding could be taken as an indication that further studies examining the nature of preschool ADHD are needed, and that it may be necessary to look beyond the neuropsychological factors that have been linked to the disorder in older children and adults.