Comorbid externalising behaviour in AD/HD: Evidence for a distinct pathological entity in adolescence

Sharnel Perera, David Crewther, Rodney Croft, Hannah Keage, Daniel Hermens, Christopher Clark

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    4 Citations (Scopus)


    While the profiling of subtypes of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) have been the subject of considerable scrutiny, both psychometrically and psychophysiologically, little attention has been paid to the effect of diagnoses comorbid with AD/HD on such profiles. This is despite the greater than 80% prevalence of comorbidity under the DSM-IV-TR diagnostic definitions. Here we investigate the event related potential (ERP) and psychometric profiles of Controls, AD/HD, and comorbid AD/HD (particularly AD/HD+ODD/CD) groups on six neurocognitive tasks thought to probe the constructs of selective and sustained attention, response inhibition and executive function. Data from 29 parameters extracted from a child group (age range 6 to 12; 52 Controls and 64 AD/HD) and from an adolescent group (age range 13 to 17; 79 Controls and 88 AD/HD) were reduced via a Principal Components Analysis, the 6 significant eigenvectors then used as determinants of cluster membership via a Two-Step Cluster Analysis. Two clusters were found in the analysis of the adolescent age group - a cluster dominated by Control and AD/HD participants without comorbidity, while the second cluster was dominated by AD/HD participants with externalising comorbidity (largely oppositional defiant/conduct disorder ODD/CD). A similar segregation within the child age group was not found. Further analysis of these objectively determined clusters in terms of their clinical diagnoses indicates a significant effect of ODD/CD comorbidity on a concurrent AD/HD diagnosis. We conclude that comorbid externalising behaviour in AD/HD constitutes a distinct pathological entity in adolescence.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere41407
    Pages (from-to)e411407
    Number of pages12
    JournalPLoS One
    Issue number9
    Publication statusPublished - 12 Sept 2012


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