Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 42, Issue 1, pp 63–75 | Cite as

A Twin Study of the Relationships among Inattention, Hyperactivity/Impulsivity and Sluggish Cognitive Tempo Problems

  • Sara Moruzzi
  • Fruhlling Rijsdijk
  • Marco Battaglia


We investigated the etiological relationships between the three ADHD dimensions of Inattentive Problems (INP), Hyperactivity-Impulsivity Problems (HIP) and Sluggish Cognitive Tempo (SCT) as measured by the CBCL 6–18 questionnaire. Multivariate models were applied to 398 twin pairs (374 boys and 422 girls) aged 8 to 17 years (M = 13.06, SD = 2.59) belonging to the population-based Italian Twin Registry. The INP, HIP and SCT problem scores were moderately-to-substantially (range 0.29–0.47) intercorrelated. The best fitting model showed that these 3 dimensions are correlated both at the genetic (correlations’ range: 0.65–0.83) and the environmental (correlations: 0.29 and 0.44) levels, but they are also distinct. While SCT showed moderate heritability and large non-shared environmental influences, variance for both INP and HIP was substantially explained by genetic influences. We also found evidence of negative sibling interaction for INP, implying that a given behavior in one twin leads to an opposite behavior in the co-twin. Our results support at the etiological level the findings of previous psychometric and longitudinal studies of ADHD, which yielded evidence of the 3 distinct—albeit correlated—problem dimensions of inattentiveness, hyperactivity-impulsivity, and sluggish cognitive tempo.


ADHD Sluggish cognitive tempo Multivariate twin studies CBCL 



The coordinating work of M. Antonietta Stazi (from Istituto Superiore di Sanita’, Rome, Italy) at the Italian Twin Registry is gratefully acknowledged; Dr Paola Pesenti Gritti and Giuseppina Ferrer (from the Academic Centre for the Study of Behavioural Plasticity, Vita-Salute San Raffaele University, Milan, Italy) provided assistance with data analyses; we also thank all children and parents for their participation to this study.

Financial Support

This study was supported in part by COFIN 2001 and PRIN 2006061953 grants, and Italian Ministry of Health 2002 and 2009 Strategic Research grants to M. Battaglia. The first author of this paper is in the San Raffaele University Developmental Psychopathology Ph D Program, supported in part by the CARIPLO Foundation ‘Human Talents’ Grant for Academic Centres of Excellence in Post-Graduate Teaching (Dr Battaglia recipient).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sara Moruzzi
    • 1
  • Fruhlling Rijsdijk
    • 2
  • Marco Battaglia
    • 3
  1. 1.The Academic Centre for the Study of Behavioural PlasticityVita-Salute San Raffaele UniversityMilanItaly
  2. 2.MRC Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College LondonLondonUK
  3. 3.Department of Psychiatry and NeurosciencesLaval University and Institut Universitaire en Santé Mentale de QuébecQuébecCanada

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