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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Response Inhibition and ADHD Traits: Correlates and Heritability in a Community Sample


Endophenotypes or intermediate phenotypes are of great interest in neuropsychiatric genetics because of their potential for facilitating gene discovery. We evaluated response inhibition, latency and variability measures derived from the stop task as endophenotypes of ADHD by testing whether they were related to ADHD traits in the general population, heritable and shared genetic risk with ADHD traits. Participants were 16,099 children and adolescents, ages 6 to 18 years who visited a local science center. We measured ADHD traits using the Strengths and Weaknesses of ADHD-symptoms and Normal-Behavior (SWAN) rating scale and performance on the stop signal task (SST)—response inhibition (SSRT), response latency (GoRT), and response variability (GoRTSD). Regression analysis was used to assess the relationship of cognitive measures and ADHD traits while controlling for family, age, sex, ethnicity, socioeconomic status and treatment status. Heritability of ADHD and cognitive traits was estimated using SOLAR in 7,483 siblings from 3,507 families that included multiple siblings. Bivariate relationships between pairs of variables were examined. Individuals with greater ADHD trait scores had worse response inhibition, slower response latency, and greater variability. Younger participants and girls had inferior performance although the gender effects were minimal and evident in youngest participants. Inhibition, latency, variability, total ADHD traits, inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity scores were significantly heritable. ADHD traits and inhibition, but not latency or variability were coheritable. In the largest study in the general population, we found support for the validity of response inhibition as an endophenotype of ADHD.Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10802-012-9693-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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