Early Negative Emotional Reactivity, Cognitive Control, and Structure Home Environments on ADHD Outcomes

Open Access
Tam, Helen
Graduate Program:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
May 13, 2016
Committee Members:
  • Jenae M. Neiderhiser, Dissertation Advisor
  • Ginger A. Moore, Committee Chair
  • Cynthia L. Huang-Pollock, Committee Member
  • Melvin M. Mark, Committee Member
  • David J. Vandenbergh, Outside Member
  • ADHD
  • cognitive control
  • negative emotional reactivity
  • environmental structuring
Two major psychological domains thought to play a role in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) etiology are higher order executive control processes (Barkley, 1997; Pennington & Ozonoff, 1996) and emotional reactivity (Karalunas et al., 2014; Nigg & Casey, 2005). However, the developmental relationship between cognitive control and emotional reactivity/regulation pertinent to ADHD is largely unknown. Furthermore, the degree to which specific gene-environment (GE) factors contribute to the underlying developmental processes that influence the presence of problems with inattention and impulsivity is unclear. To address some of these lingering questions, this dissertation evaluated the degree to which early developmental trajectories of cognitive control (CC) and negative emotional reactivity (nER) are (1) influenced by latent genetic risk factors for ADHD and (2) interact with parenting variables (i.e., environmental structuring) that are often implemented in the psychosocial treatment of children with ADHD. Cross-lagged and mixed growth models were applied to investigate these multi-tiered relationships in the Early Growth and Development Study (EGDS; R01 HD042608), a multisite longitudinal adoption study. Results indicated that CC is concurrently and predictively associated with nER in middle childhood, but not in infancy/toddlerhood. Low CC consistently predicted future ADHD-related behavior problems, but did not significantly interact with nER to produce increased problems. Latent birth parent genetic effects on child CC, nER, and ADHD were non-significant, and adoptive parent CC, nER, ADHD, and environmental structuring parenting practices did not mediate or interact with latent parent factors to influence child outcomes. Results are discussed in the context of understanding the developmental psychopathology of ADHD.