Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 51-63

First online:

A Two-Year Longitudinal Study of Neuropsychological and Cognitive Performance in Relation to Behavioral Problems and Competencies in Elementary School Children

  • Joel T. NiggAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Michigan State University Email author 
  • , Julie P. QuammaAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Washington
  • , Mark T. GreenbergAffiliated withHuman Development, Penn State UniversityHDFS, Henderson Building 5, Penn State University
  • , Carol A. KuscheAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Washington

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Despite interest in early neuropsychological status as a possible contributor to children's behavioral development, prospective longitudinal investigations of neuropsychological measures in relation to later behavioral outcomes in childhood are few. A 2-year longitudinal study in a nonselected childhood sample is reported. The study tested the influence of early neuropsychological performance (verbal fluency, mental inhibitory control, and visual spatial ability) on later childhood behavioral problems and social competency. Regular education children (n = 235) were assessed at three time points 1 year apart. To control for autocorrelation of outcome measures, Time 1 behavior was partialed while testing the effects of Time 1 neuropsychological scores on Time 3 outcome. To control for autocorrelation of neuropsychological scores, Time 2 scores were partialed while testing the predictive effect of Time 1 scores on Time 3 outcome. Both sets of regression models suggested modest but statistically significant effects for inhibitory control and verbal fluency, but not IQ, reading, or visual spatial ability, on behavioral outcome. Study results are consistent with a modest causal effect of selected neuropsychological skills on later behavioral adjustment. The findings support theories that implicate subtle neuropsychological dysfunction in the development of behavioral problems in childhood.

Child psychopathology neuropsychology longitudinal