Executieve functies bij jonge kinderen met gedragsproblemen
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Background: Deficits in executive functioning are supposed to have a predisposing influence on impulsive or aggressive behavior. In this study the hypothesis was tested that children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and/or Disruptive Behavior Disorder (DBD) have problems in executive functioning when compared to normally developing children. Aim: The first purpose of the study was to investigate the group differences between preschoolers with ADHD, DBD, ADHD + DBD and normally developing children in their performance on neuropsychological tasks measuring Executive Functions (EF). The DBD group comprises children with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) Disorder and/or Conduct Disorder (CD). Performance tests alone, however, seem insufficient to develop a comprehensive picture of a child’s executive functioning. Therefore, the second aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between preschoolers’ performance on EF tasks and parent ratings on a questionnaire assessing executive function behaviors. Method: Hundred-seventy-four 5- to 7-year-old children (61 ADHD, 21 DBD, 41 ADHD + DBD, and 49 normal controls), all with normal IQ, completed seven neuropsychological performance based measures of EF, assessing the abilities of inhibition, working memory and set shifting. The mothers of the participants completed the questionnaire Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Functioning – Preschool Version (BRIEF-P). Results: Relative to the control group, the ADHD and ADHD + DBD group showed significantly poorer performance on the performance based measures of EF. The scores on the performance based EF tasks were significantly related to scores on the BRIEF-P. Conclusion: The findings support the hypothesis that children with ADHD and ADHD + DBD have a deficit in their EF. Significant correlations were found between the EF tasks and the corresponding BRIEF-P scales. However, correlations were also found between scores on inhibition tasks and the Working Memory and the Shifting scale of the BRIEF-P. Considering the limited specificity of the correlations, it can be assumed that the BRIEF-P does not provide unique information about EF. Due to the limitations of this study further research is needed. Keywords: ADHD, DBD, BRIEF-P, Executive Functions, preschool children.