The influence of Generalized Anxiety Disorder on Executive Functions in children with ADHD

  • D. Menghini
  • M. Armando
  • M. Calcagni
  • C. Napolitano
  • P. Pasqualetti
  • J. A. Sergeant
  • P. Pani
  • S. Vicari
Original Paper


The present study was aimed at verifying whether the presence of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) affects executive functions in children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Two groups of children with ADHD were selected for the study according to the presence or absence of GAD. The first group of 28 children with ADHD with GAD (mean age: 9 ± 1.2; males/females: 24/4) was matched for gender, age, IQ, psychiatric comorbidity with a second group of 29 children with ADHD without GAD (mean age: 8.8 ± 0.7; males/females: 26/3). The two groups with ADHD were compared to 28 typically developing children (mean age: 8.3 ± 1.3; males/females: 23/5) on different measures involving processes especially important in inhibitory control such as rule maintenance, stimulus detection, action selection and action execution. Our results indicated that, differently from children with ADHD with GAD, only the group with ADHD without GAD showed a deficit in inhibitory control. Comorbid subgroups should be differentiated, especially, to develop specific and efficient therapeutic interventions in ADHD.


Internalizing disorders Comorbid ADHD Inhibitory control Response inhibition 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

This research received no specific grant from any funding agency, commercial or not-for-profit sectors. J. A. Sergeant received educational grant from Novartis, Janssen-Cilag, Lilly, Shire and Vifor. J. A. Sergeant is also on the advisory board of Lilly and Shire.


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Child Neuropsychiatric Unit, Department of NeuroscienceBambino Gesù Children’s HospitalRomeItaly
  2. 2.Office Médico-Pédagogique Research Unit, Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Geneva School of MedicineGenevaSwitzerland
  3. 3.Department of Physiology and PharmacologySapienza UniversityRomeItaly
  4. 4.Service of Medical Statistics and Information Technology (SeSMIT)Fatebenefratelli HospitalRomeItaly
  5. 5.Language and Communication Across Modalities Laboratory (LACAM)Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies (ISTC-CNR)RomeItaly
  6. 6.Department of Clinical NeuropsychologyVrije UniversiteitAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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